What We Are Reading Today: Epic and Empire by David Quint

What We Are Reading Today: Epic and Empire by David Quint
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Updated 13 January 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Epic and Empire by David Quint

What We Are Reading Today: Epic and Empire by David Quint

Alexander the Great, according to Plutarch, carried on his campaigns a copy of the Iliad, kept alongside a dagger; on a more pronounced ideological level, ancient Romans looked to the Aeneid as an argument for imperialism. In this major reinterpretation of epic poetry beginning with Virgil, David Quint explores the political context and meanings of key works in Western literature. He divides the history of the genre into two political traditions: The Virgilian epics of conquest and empire that take the victors’ side (the Aeneid itself, Camoes’s Lusíadas, Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata) and the countervailing epic of the defeated and of republican liberty (Lucan’s Pharsalia, Ercilla’s Araucana, and d’Aubigné’s Les tragiques). These traditions produce opposing ideas of historical narrative: a linear, teleological narrative that belongs to the imperial conquerors, and an episodic and open-ended narrative identified with “romance,” the story told of and by the defeated.

Quint situates Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained within these rival traditions. He extends his political analysis to the scholarly revival of medieval epic in the late 18th and 19th centuries and to Sergei Eisenstein’s epic film, Alexander Nevsky. Attending both to the topical contexts of individual poems and to the larger historical development of the epic genre, Epic and Empire provides new models for exploring the relationship between ideology and literary form.


What We Are Reading Today: Keeping At It

What We Are Reading Today: Keeping At It
Updated 25 September 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Keeping At It

What We Are Reading Today: Keeping At It

Edited by Paul A. Volcker and Christine Harper

The extraordinary life story of the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, whose absolute integrity provides the inspiration we need.

As chairman of the Federal Reserve (1979-1987), Paul Volcker slayed the inflation dragon that was consuming the American economy and restored the world’s faith in central bankers. That extraordinary feat was just one pivotal episode in a decades-long career serving six presidents, says a review on goodreads.com.

Told with wit, humor, and down-to-earth erudition, the narrative of Volcker’s career illuminates the changes that have taken place in American life, government, and the economy since WWII. He vibrantly illustrates the crises he managed alongside the world’s leading politicians, central bankers, and financiers. Yet he first found his model for competent and ethical governance in his father, the town manager of Teaneck, NJ, who instilled Volcker’s dedication to absolute integrity and his “three verities” of stable prices, sound finance, and good government.


What We Are Reading Today: Along Came Google: A History of Library Digitization

What We Are Reading Today: Along Came Google: A History of Library Digitization
Updated 24 September 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Along Came Google: A History of Library Digitization

What We Are Reading Today: Along Came Google: A History of Library Digitization

Authors: Deanna Marcum and Roger C. Schonfeld

Libraries have long talked about providing comprehensive access to information for everyone. But when Google announced in 2004 that it planned to digitize books to make the world’s knowledge accessible to all, questions were raised about the roles and responsibilities of libraries, the rights of authors and publishers, and whether a powerful corporation should be the conveyor of such a fundamental public good. Along Came Google traces the history of Google’s book digitization project and its implications for us today.
Deanna Marcum and Roger Schonfeld draw on in-depth interviews with those who both embraced and resisted Google’s plans, from librarians and technologists to university leaders, tech executives, and the heads of leading publishing houses. They look at earlier digital initiatives to provide open access to knowledge,
and describe how Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page made the case for a universal digital library and drew on their company’s considerable financial resources to make it a reality.


What We Are Reading Today: Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record

What We Are Reading Today: Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record
Updated 23 September 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record

What We Are Reading Today: Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record

Author: Errol Fuller

A photograph of an extinct animal evokes a greater feeling of loss than any painting ever could. Often black and white or tinted sepia, these remarkable images have been taken mainly in zoos or wildlife parks, and in some cases depict the last known individual of the species.
Lost Animals is a unique photographic record of extinction, presented by a world authority on vanished animals. Richly illustrated throughout, this handsome book features photographs dating from around 1870 to as recently as 2004, the year that witnessed the demise of the Hawaiian Po’ouli. From a mother Thylacine and her pups to birds such as the Heath Hen and the Carolina Parakeet, Errol Fuller tells the story of each animal, explains why it became extinct, and discusses the circumstances surrounding the photography.
Covering 28 extinct species, Lost Animals includes familiar examples like the last Passenger Pigeon, Martha, and one of the last Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, photographed as it peers quizzically at the hat of one of the biologists who has just ringed it.


What We Are Reading Today: All the News That’s Fit to Click by Caitlin Petre

What We Are Reading Today: All the News That’s Fit to Click by Caitlin Petre
Updated 22 September 2021

What We Are Reading Today: All the News That’s Fit to Click by Caitlin Petre

What We Are Reading Today: All the News That’s Fit to Click by Caitlin Petre

Journalists today are inundated with data about which stories attract the most clicks, likes, comments, and shares. These metrics influence what stories are written, how news is promoted, and even which journalists get hired and fired. Do metrics make journalists more accountable to the public? Or are these data tools the contemporary equivalent of a stopwatch wielded by a factory boss, worsening newsroom working conditions and journalism quality? In All the News That’s Fit to Click, Caitlin Petre takes readers behind the scenes at the New York Times, Gawker, and the prominent news analytics company Chartbeat to explore how performance metrics are transforming the work of journalism.

Petre describes how digital metrics are a powerful but insidious new form of managerial surveillance and discipline. Real-time analytics tools are designed to win the trust and loyalty of wary journalists by mimicking key features of addictive games, including immersive displays, instant feedback.


What We Are Reading Today: Alien Oceans; The Search for Life in the Depths of Space by Kevin Hand

What We Are Reading Today: Alien Oceans; The Search  for Life in the Depths of Space by Kevin Hand
Updated 21 September 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Alien Oceans; The Search for Life in the Depths of Space by Kevin Hand

What We Are Reading Today: Alien Oceans; The Search  for Life in the Depths of Space by Kevin Hand

Where is the best place to find life beyond Earth? We often look to Mars as the most promising site in our solar system, but recent scientific missions have revealed that some of the most habitable real estate may actually lie farther away. Beneath the frozen crusts of several of the small, ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn lurk vast oceans that may have existed for as long as Earth, and together may contain more than 50 times its total volume of liquid water. Could there be organisms living in their depths? Alien Oceans reveals the science behind the thrilling quest to find out.

Kevin Peter Hand is one of today’s leading NASA scientists, and his pioneering research has taken him on expeditions around the world. In this captivating account of scientific discovery, he brings together insights from planetary science, biology, and the adventures of scientists like himself to explain how we know that oceans exist within moons of the outer solar system, like Europa, Titan, and Enceladus.