What We Are Reading Today: ‘Citizen and Subject’ by Mahmood Mamdani

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Citizen and Subject’ by Mahmood Mamdani
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Updated 10 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Citizen and Subject’ by Mahmood Mamdani

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Citizen and Subject’ by Mahmood Mamdani

In analyzing the obstacles to democratization in post- independence Africa, Mahmood Mamdani offers a bold, insightful account of colonialism’s legacy — a bifurcated power that mediated racial domination through tribally organized local authorities, reproducing racial identity in citizens and ethnic identity in subjects.


What We Are Reading Today: Leon Battista Alberti: Writer and Humanist

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Updated 12 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Leon Battista Alberti: Writer and Humanist

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  • McLaughlin begins with what we know of Alberti’s life, comparing the facts laid out in Alberti’s autobiography with the myth created in the 19th century by Burckhardt, before moving on to his extraordinarily wide knowledge of classical texts

Author: Martin McLaughlin

Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) was one of the most prolific and original writers of the Italian Renaissance—a fact often eclipsed by his more celebrated achievements as an art theorist and architect, and by Jacob Burckhardt’s mythologizing of Alberti as a “Renaissance or Universal Man.” In this book, Martin McLaughlin counters this partial perspective on Alberti, considering him more broadly as a writer dedicated to literature and humanism, a major protagonist and experimentalist in the literary scene of early Renaissance Italy. McLaughlin, a noted authority on Alberti, examines all of Alberti’s major works in Latin and the Italian vernacular and analyzes his vast knowledge of classical texts and culture.

McLaughlin begins with what we know of Alberti’s life, comparing the facts laid out in Alberti’s autobiography with the myth created in the 19th century by Burckhardt, before moving on to his extraordinarily wide knowledge of classical texts. He then turns to Alberti’s works, tracing his development as a writer through texts that range from an early comedy in Latin successfully passed off as the work of a fictitious ancient author to later philosophical dialogues written in the Italian vernacular (a revolutionary choice at the time).

 


What We Are Reading Today: The Little Book of Black Holes

What We Are Reading Today: The Little Book of Black Holes
Updated 11 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: The Little Book of Black Holes

What We Are Reading Today: The Little Book of Black Holes

Authors: Steven S. Gubser & Frans Pretorius

Although Einstein understood that black holes were mathematical solutions to his equations, he never accepted their physical reality — a viewpoint many shared. 

This all changed in the 1960s and 1970s, when a deeper conceptual understanding of black holes developed just as new observations revealed the existence of quasars and X-ray binary star systems, whose mysterious properties could be explained by the presence of black holes.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Class Dismissed’ by Anthony Abraham Jack

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Class Dismissed’ by Anthony Abraham Jack
Updated 10 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Class Dismissed’ by Anthony Abraham Jack

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Class Dismissed’ by Anthony Abraham Jack

Elite colleges are boasting unprecedented numbers with respect to diversity, with some schools admitting their first majority-minority classes.

But when the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial unrest gripped the world, schools scrambled to figure out what to do with the diversity they so fervently recruited. And disadvantaged students suffered.

“Class Dismissed” exposes how woefully unprepared colleges were to support these students and shares their stories of how they were left to weather the storm alone and unprotected.


What We Are Reading Today: On the Art and Craft of Doing Science

What We Are Reading Today: On the Art and Craft of Doing Science
Updated 10 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: On the Art and Craft of Doing Science

What We Are Reading Today: On the Art and Craft of Doing Science

Author: Kenneth Catania 

Like any creative endeavor, science can be a messy and chaotic affair.

“On the Art and Craft of Doing Science” shares the creative process of an innovative and accomplished scientist, taking readers behind the scenes of some of his most pioneering investigations and explaining why the practice of science, far from being an orderly exercise in pure logic, is a form of creative expression like any other art. 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Richter’s Scale’ by Susan Elizabeth Hough

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Richter’s Scale’ by Susan Elizabeth Hough
Updated 08 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Richter’s Scale’ by Susan Elizabeth Hough

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Richter’s Scale’ by Susan Elizabeth Hough

By developing the scale that bears his name, Charles Richter not only invented the concept of magnitude as a measure of earthquake size, he turned himself into nothing less than a household word.

He remains the only seismologist whose name anyone outside of narrow scientific circles would likely recognize.

Yet few understand the Richter scale itself, and even fewer have ever understood the man.