What We Are Reading Today: William Blake

What We Are Reading Today: William Blake
Updated 31 October 2019

What We Are Reading Today: William Blake

What We Are Reading Today: William Blake

Authors: Martin Myrone and Amy Concannon

William Blake (1757–1827) created some of the most iconic images in the history of art. He was a countercultural painter whose personal struggles, technical innovations, and revelatory vision have inspired generations of artists. This marvelously illustrated book explores the biographical, artistic, and political contexts that shaped Blake’s work, and demonstrates why he was a singularly gifted visual artist with renewed relevance for us today, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

The book explores Blake’s relationship with the art world of his time and provides new perspectives on his craft as a printmaker, poet, watercolorist, and painter. It makes sense of the profound historical forces with which he contended during his lifetime, from revolutions in America and France to the dehumanizing effects of industrialization. 

Readers gain incomparable insights into Blake’s desire for recognition and commercial success, his role as social critic, his visionary experience of London, his hatred of empire, and the bitter disappointments that drove him to retire from the world in his final years.  

 


What We Are Reading Today: Rocks and Rock Formations

What We Are Reading Today: Rocks and Rock Formations
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Updated 23 June 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Rocks and Rock Formations

What We Are Reading Today: Rocks and Rock Formations

Author: Jurg Meyer

Many of us are fascinated by rocks—but identifying them can seem daunting. It’s often tricky even for geologists, who rely on experience, intuition, and in-depth familiarity with rock-forming components. Rocks and Rock Formations allows everyone, amateur or professional, to successfully distinguish these amazing masses of minerals, using only careful observation, a magnifying glass, a pocket knife—and a bit of patience.
Jürg Meyer provides a structured approach to the identification of all rocks within the three groups: sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic. Bringing together more than 530 diagrams and photographs to illustrate essential characteristics, Meyer highlights some basics on rocks—their mineral constituents, structures, textures, fossils, weathering patterns, and more—which are important for a determination. The main part of the book is a handy and thorough identification key, which takes into account all possible rock variations, mixtures, and structural differences. The concluding section of the guide delves into rock systematics.


What We Are Reading Today: Streetwalking on a Ruined Map by Giuliana Bruno

What We Are Reading Today: Streetwalking on a Ruined Map by Giuliana Bruno
Updated 21 June 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Streetwalking on a Ruined Map by Giuliana Bruno

What We Are Reading Today: Streetwalking on a Ruined Map by Giuliana Bruno

Emphasizing the importance of cultural theory for film history, Giuliana Bruno enriches our understanding of early Italian film as she guides us on a series of “inferential walks” through Italian culture in the first decades of the 20th century. This innovative approach — the interweaving of examples of cinema with architecture, art history, medical discourse, photography, and literature — addresses the challenge posed by feminism to film study while calling attention to marginalized artists. 

An object of this critical remapping is Elvira Notari (1875-1946), Italy’s first and most prolific woman filmmaker, whose documentary-style work on street life in Naples, a forerunner of neorealism, was popularly acclaimed in Italy and the United States until its suppression during the Fascist regime. 

Since only fragments of Notari’s films exist today, Bruno illuminates the filmmaker’s contributions to early Italian cinematography by evoking the cultural terrain in which she operated. 

What emerges is an intertextual montage of urban film culture highlighting a woman’s view on love, violence, poverty, desire, and death. This panorama ranges from the city’s exteriors to the body’s interiors. Reclaiming an alternative history of women’s filmmaking and reception, Bruno draws a cultural history that persuasively argues for a spatial, corporal interpretation of film language.


What We Are Reading Today: The Outlier by Kai Bird

What We Are Reading Today: The Outlier by Kai Bird
Updated 20 June 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Outlier by Kai Bird

What We Are Reading Today: The Outlier by Kai Bird

The Outlier: The Life and presidency of Jimmy Carter by Kai bird is an enlightening reassessment of Carter’s presidency in the US by putting it in line with the rest of his life.

The issues that Carter contended with in the late 1970s are still hotly debated today: National healthcare, growing inequality, energy independence, racism, immigration, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Forty years after US voters turned him out of the white house, Carter appears remarkably prescient on the major issues facing the country in the 21st century.

Carter’s time as president is a compelling and under-explored story, marked by accomplishment and adversity.

In this deeply researched, brilliantly written account, the first full presidential biography of Carter, bird approaches his presidency with an expert hand, unfolding the story of Carter’s four years with few allies inside washington and a great many critics in the media.

Bird is an american pulitzer prize-winning author and journalist, best known for his biographies of political figures.


What We Are Reading Today: Spiders of the World by Norman I. Platnick

What We Are Reading Today: Spiders of the World by Norman I. Platnick
Updated 20 June 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Spiders of the World by Norman I. Platnick

What We Are Reading Today: Spiders of the World by Norman I. Platnick

Spiders are among the most versatile creatures on the planet, inhabiting six of the seven continents and thriving in environments ranging from deserts and rain forests to Arctic tundra and cities.

Spiders of the World is a captivating look at these wondrously adaptable and endlessly intriguing arachnids, written by six of the world’s leading experts on spiders, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

This stunningly illustrated natural history features a wealth of spectacular color photos and covers a breathtaking array of spider species from around the globe, describing their behaviors, characteristics, and remarkable evolutionary adaptations.

An incisive and engaging introduction provides an invaluable overview of the world’s spiders, and is followed by in-depth profiles spanning more than 100 spider families and presented taxonomically.

Each profile is organized phylogenetically and includes beautiful photography to illustrate various species within the family. There are also distribution maps, tables of essential facts, and commentaries highlighting diverse aspects of spider biology.


What We Are Reading Today: The Barbarians Speak

What We Are Reading Today: The Barbarians Speak
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Updated 19 June 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Barbarians Speak

What We Are Reading Today: The Barbarians Speak

Author: Peter S. Wells

The Barbarians Speak re-creates the story of Europe’s indigenous people who were nearly stricken from historical memory even as they adopted and transformed aspects of Roman culture.
The Celts and Germans inhabiting temperate Europe before the arrival of the Romans left no written record of their lives and were often dismissed as “barbarians” by the Romans who conquered them.
Accounts by Julius Caesar and a handful of other Roman and Greek writers would lead us to think that prior to contact with the Romans, European natives had much simpler political systems, smaller settlements, no evolving social identities, and that they practiced human sacrifice. A more accurate, sophisticated picture of the indigenous people emerges, however, from the archaeological remains of the Iron Age.
Here Peter Wells brings together information that has belonged to the realm of specialists and enables the general reader to share in the excitement of rediscovering a “lost people.”