NYU Research Digest: Fall 2013 Bookshelf


Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850
Edited by Lauren Benton and Richard J. Ross
NYU Press, 2013
Governed from capitals in Europe and the British Isles, empires may have seemed to function as monolithic entities. But, in fact, legal pluralism was of vital importance to colonial powers, as Lauren Benton and Richard Ross write in Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850.
“Many empires assembled political communities boasting divergent constitutional traditions,” observe Benton, dean of NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science and a professor of history, and Ross, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Such pluralism often grew more complex in colonies and far-flung peripheries as administrators and settlers dealt with indigenous, enslaved, and conquered peoples. The resulting legal orders encompassed multiple zones with unstable and varied relationships to one another and to imperial centers.”
The edited volume highlights new dimensions of legal pluralism in the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Ottoman empires, covering such topics as the shifting legal privileges of corporations, the intertwining of religious and legal thought, and the effects of clashing legal authorities on sovereignty and subjecthood. The work’s case studies illustrate how a variety of individuals engage with the law and shape the contours of imperial rule.
Benton’s previous works include A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400-1900 and Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400-1900.


Rebellion in Black and White:
Southern Student Activism in the 1960s
Edited by Robert Cohe
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013
Prior to the 1960s, college campuses in the South were parochial and racially segregated institutions with little academic freedom and almost no progressive student activism. But in the 1960s, student protesters worked to transform the south both on and off campus. First, students from historically black colleges and universities launched a sit-in movement that ended segregation at lunch counters and restaurants and created the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, which launched a larger student movement to topple Jim Crow.
Student activism soon spread across the South and involved both white and black students in struggles for racial justice, gender equity, academic freedom, and an end to the war in Vietnam. Rebellion in Black and White, edited by Robert Cohen—professor of social studies at Steinhardt and an affiliated member of the FAS history department—is the first book to offer a panoramic view of this southern student activism, bringing together original essays on all phases of the student movement by historians who beckon us to look south and recognize that some of the 1960s’ most impressive political efforts occurred there.


Mapping the Jewish World
Edited by Hasia R. Diner and Gennady Estraikh
NYU Press, 2013
The final year of the Roaring Twenties is best remembered for the stock market crash that fall, setting off the Great Depression in the 1930s.
But 1929 also marked a major turning point in Jewish society around the globe—changes chronicled by NYU historians Hasia Diner and Gennady Estraikh in their co-edited volume, 1929: Mapping the Jewish World. In the United States, Wall Street’s meltdown brought lasting economic, social, and ideological changes to the Jewish community while also limiting its ability to support humanitarian and nationalist projects in other countries. Meanwhile, in Palestine, anti-Jewish riots in Hebron and other towns underscored the vulnerability of the Zionist enterprise and ignited heated discussions among various Jewish political groups about the wisdom of establishing a Jewish state on its historical site. Further east, Joseph Stalin’s consolidation of power created a much more dogmatic climate in the international Communist movement, including its Jewish branches.

Drawing from a range of scholars, 1929 surveys the Jewish world in one year, offering examples of the transnational connections that linked Jews to each other—from politics and diplomacy to culture and the fate of Yiddish. Chapters also include insights into Jewish American literature, Jewish migration in the interwar period, and Jewish American philanthropy. Taken together, the book’s essays posit that, whether American, Soviet, German, Polish, or Palestinian, Jews throughout the world lived in a global context.

Diner is the Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History in NYU’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. She previously authored the award-winning We Remember With Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence After the Holocaust, 1945-1962 (NYU Press). Estraikh is an associate professor of Yiddish Studies in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies.

The AIDS Generation:
Stories of Survival and Resilience
By Perry Halkitis
Oxford University Press, 2013

In this new book, Perry Halkitis, Steinhardt professor of applied psychology, public health, and population health and director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies at NYU, examines the strategies for survival and coping employed by HIV-positive gay men who together constitute the first generation of long-term survivors of the disease. The book narrates the stories of gay men who have survived since the early days of the epidemic; documents and delineates the strategies and behaviors enacted by men of this generation to survive; and examines the extent to which these approaches to survival inform and are informed by the broad body of literature on resilience and health.

“For young gay men who came of age in the United States in the 1980s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic was a formative experience in fear, hardship, and loss,” says Halkitis. Those who were diagnosed before 1996 suffered an exceptionally high rate of mortality, and the survivors—both the infected individuals and those close to them—today constitute a “bravest generation” in American history.

A Search Past Silence:
The Literacy of Young Black Men
By David Kirkland
Teachers College Press, 2013
A Search Past Silence argues that educators need to understand the social worlds and complex literacy practices of African-American males in order to pay the increasing educational debt we owe all youth, and to break the school-to-prison pipeline. Moving portraits from the lives of six friends bring to life practices that reveal the political tensions of defining who gets to be literate and who does not.

David Kirkland, Steinhardt assistant professor of English education—with a foreword written by Pedro Noguera, executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at Steinhardt—offers key chapters on language, literacy, race, and masculinity, examining how the identities of young men are shaped by social silence on these issues. Ultimately, the book is a passionate call for educators to listen to the voices of black youth and to reimagine the concept of being literate in a multicultural, democratic society. “These remarkable insights make it possible for us to reject the caricatures of black males so that we can see them as they are,” writes Kirkland.


The Art of Failure:
An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games
By Jesper Juul
The MIT Press, 2013
We may think of video games as being “fun,” but in The Art of Failure, Jesper Juul claims that this is almost entirely mistaken. When we play video games, our facial expressions are rarely those of happiness or bliss. Instead, we frown, grimace, and shout in frustration as we lose or die or fail to advance to the next level. Humans may have a fundamental desire to succeed and feel competent, but game players choose to engage in an activity in which they are nearly certain to fail and feel incompetent.

So why do we play video games even though they make us unhappy? Juul, an assistant professor at the NYU Game Center, examines this paradox. In video games, as in tragic works of art, literature, theater, and cinema, it seems that we want to experience unpleasantness even if we also dislike it. Reader or audience reaction to tragedy is often explained as catharsis, a purging of negative emotions. But, Juul points out, this doesn’t seem to be the case for video game players because games don’t purge us of unpleasant emotions; they produce them in the first place.
What, then, does failure in video game playing do? Juul argues that failure in a game is unique in that when you fail in a game, you (not a character) are in some way inadequate. Yet games also motivate us to play more in order to escape that inadequacy, and the feeling of escaping failure, often by improving skills, is a central enjoyment of games. According to Juul, games are the art of failure—the singular art form that sets us up for failure and allows us to experience it and experiment with it. The Art of Failure is essential reading for anyone interested in video games, whether as entertainment, art, or education.


Light Without Fire:
The Making of America’s First Muslim College
By Scott Korb
Beacon Press, 2013
The decade after 9/11 was marked by crowds gathering near Ground Zero to protest plans to build an Islamic cultural center, a Florida minister promising to burn the Koran, and the labeling of then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama as a Muslim as a way to derail his presidential candidacy. At the same time, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir were working to establish what may have seemed to many as unviable—the first Muslim liberal arts college in the United States.
In Light Without Fire: The Making of America’s First Muslim College, Scott Korb chronicles the 2010-11 year at the Berkeley, California institution Zaytuna College, which employs a single, unified curriculum based on the Great Books model of Columbia University and St. John’s College. Korb, an instructor at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, follows Zaytuna’s students and teachers, offering a portrait of the school and insights into how Islam is being lived and re-envisioned in America.

Korb’s previous works include Life in Year One: What the World Was Like in First-Century Palestine and The Faith Between Us, co-authored with Peter Bebergal. He is also associate editor of The Harriet Jacobs Family Papers.

The Founding Conservatives:
How a Group of Unsung Heroes Saved the American Revolutio
By David Lefer
Sentinel Books, 2013
According to most narratives of the American Revolution, our founders were united in their quest for independence. But if not for a few conservatives who kept the more extreme revolutionaries in check and promoted capitalism, a strong military, and the preservation of tradition, our country would be very different today. The Founding Conservatives: How a Group of Unsung Heroes Saved the American Revolution takes a fresh approach to the critical role these men played.
Historian David Lefer, NYU-Poly industry professor and director of its Innovation and Technology Forum, offers an insightful look at the birth of what we now know as modern American conservatism.

Polymer Products and Chemical Processes:
Techniques, Analysis, and Applications
Edited by Eli M. Pearce, Richard A. Pethrick, and Gennady E. Zaikov
Apple Academic Press, 2013
Polymer Products and Chemical Processes: Techniques, Analysis, and Applications presents leading-edge research in the rapidly changing and evolving field of polymer science as well as on chemical processing. The topics in the book reflect the diversity of research advances in the production and application of modern polymeric materials and related areas, focusing on the preparation, characterization, and applications of polymers. Also covered are various manufacturing techniques. The book will help to fill the gap between theory and practice in industry.

Eli M. Pearce is a research professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NYU-Poly. A former president of the American Chemical Society, he received the 2006 H.F. Mark Medal for his many contributions to the polymer industry, especially in the field of synthesis and modification of technical polymers. His special interest is the subject of polymer flammability, and he is regarded as the inventor of fire-resistant polymers.

The Definitive Guide to Entertainment Marketing:
Bringing the Moguls, the Media, and the Magic to the World
By Al Lieberman and Patricia Esgate
FT Press, 2013
Stern School of Business professor Al Lieberman, executive director of Stern’s Entertainment, Media and Technology Program, and Patricia Esgate, writer and consultant to the destination entertainment industry, have updated their classic guide to reflect changes within the entertainment industry, including new platforms, new media, new tools, and new global markets.

The Definitive Guide to Entertainment Marketing (2nd Edition) surveys every major entertainment marketing platform by illuminating challenges and opportunities associated with new technologies, explaining the implications of globalization, demonstrating sophisticated new integrated marketing strategies, and previewing emerging challenges. The book reflects powerful trends ranging from smartphones to globalization and demonstrates breakthrough strategies integrating advertising, promotion, PR, and online content distribution.

Bending the Frame:
Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen
By Fred Ritchi
Aperture, 2013
The old paradigm for photojournalists was simply to record events with the hope—and frequently the expectation—that people and their governments would be moved to respond to the injustices pictured, as witnessed by the impact of certain images during the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War. However, given evolving media and political climates, including the billions of images now available online from all kinds of sources, the purpose and effectiveness of visual journalism has been called into question.
In Bending the Frame, Fred Ritchin addresses the new and emerging potentials for visual media to impact society. Encompassing online efforts, uses of video, and a diverse range of books and exhibitions, this volume asks the critical question: How can images promote new thinking and make a difference in the world?
Ritchin is professor and associate chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts and co-director of the Photography and Human Rights Program at NYU with the Magnum Foundation. He is also director and co-founder of PixelPress, which works with humanitarian groups to develop visual projects dealing with social justice issues.

The Wheels That Drove New York:
A History of the New York City Transit System
By Roger P. Roess and Gene Sansone
Springer, 2013
The Wheels That Drove New York: A History of the New York City Transit System tells the story of how a public transportation system helped transform a small trading community on the southern tip of Manhattan island to a world financial capital that is home to more than 8 million people. From the earliest days of horse-drawn conveyances to the wonders of one of the world’s largest and most efficient subways, the story links the developing history of the city itself to the growth and development of its public transit system. Along the way, the key roles played by the inventors, builders, financiers, and managers of the system are highlighted.

Co-authors Roger P. Roess, an NYU-Poly professor of civil and urban engineering, and Gene Sansone discuss the many challenges that the transit system has had to face. They also trace the conversion of the system from fully private operations (through the elevated railways) to the fully public system that exists today, and the problems that this transformation has created along the way.

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