What We Are Reading Today: The Loud Minority by Daniel Q. Gillion

Short Url
Updated 12 March 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Loud Minority by Daniel Q. Gillion

The “silent majority” — a phrase coined by Richard Nixon in 1969 in response to Vietnam War protests and later used by Donald Trump as a campaign slogan — refers to the supposed wedge that exists between protesters in the street and the voters at home. 

The Loud Minority upends this view by demonstrating that voters are in fact directly informed and influenced by protest activism, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. Consequently, as protests grow in America, every facet of the electoral process is touched by this loud minority, benefiting the political party perceived to be the most supportive of the protestors’ messaging.

Drawing on historical evidence, statistical data, and detailed interviews about protest activity since the 1960s, Daniel Gillion shows that electoral districts with protest activity are more likely to see increased voter turnout at the polls. Surprisingly, protest activities are also moneymaking endeavors for electoral politics, as voters donate more to political candidates who share the ideological leanings of activists.


What We Are Reading Today: Reading Old Books by Peter Mack

Updated 59 min 17 sec ago

What We Are Reading Today: Reading Old Books by Peter Mack

In literary and cultural studies, “tradition” is a word everyone uses but few address critically. In Reading Old Books, Peter Mack offers a wide-ranging exploration of the creative power of literary tradition, from the middle ages to the 21st century, revealing in new ways how it helps writers and readers make new works and meanings.

Reading Old Books argues that the best way to understand tradition is by examining the moments when a writer takes up an old text and writes something new out of a dialogue with that text and the promptings of the present situation. 

The book examines Petrarch as a user, instigator, and victim of tradition. It shows how Chaucer became the first great English writer by translating and adapting a minor poem by Boccaccio. 

It investigates how Ariosto, Tasso, and Spenser made new epic meanings by playing with assumptions, episodes, and phrases translated from their predecessors. It analyzes how the Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell drew on tradition to address the new problem of urban deprivation in Mary Barton. 

And, finally, it looks at how the Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o, in his 2004 novel Wizard of the Crow, reflects on biblical, English literary, and African traditions.

Drawing on key theorists, critics, historians, and sociologists, and stressing the international character of literary tradition, Reading Old Books illuminates the not entirely free choices readers and writers make to create meaning in collaboration and competition with their models.