Copywriter Chris Robinson is the resident theory nerd in Duke University Press’s Marketing and Sales Department. In this post he shares five books that left an impact on him during graduate school, as well as a few more he is champing at the bit to read. Chris’ picks have a little bit for everybody, especially for all the theory heads out there. All are available for 50% during our Stock Up and Save Sale. Just enter coupon code STOCKUP at checkout.
Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1992)
A classic touchstone of postmodern theory. It’s not easy, but all those who want to know what postmodernism is, or have stayed in the Westin Bonaventure hotel in Los Angeles and want to understand its madness, go here.
Jazz Among the Discourses, edited by Krin Gabbard (1995)
This is one of THE foundational jazz studies texts, with influential essays by Gabbard, Bernard Gendron, Nathaniel Mackey, Ronald Radano, Eric Lott, and others.
Sherrie Tucker, Swing Shift: “All-Girl” Bands of the 1940s (2000)
Tucker interviewed over 100 women who performed in swing bands, showing how and why whole bands of talented women were dropped from our national memory. Going far beyond restoring these women to history, Tucker shows how these women navigated Jim Crow laws, sexism, and travel restrictions while analyzing various public representations of women.
Inderpal Grewal, Transnational America: Feminisms, Diasporas, Neoliberalisms (2005)
This book had absolutely nothing to do with my academic interests, but Grewal’s argument that contemporary notions of gender, race, class, and nationality are linked to earlier histories of colonization was revelatory to me at the time. I will never forget her chapter analyzing Mattel’s marketing of Barbie dolls in India.
Kathleen Stewart, Ordinary Affects, (2007)
This book has spent a lot of time on my nightstand, and I have two copies—a heavily marked up one, and a clean copy to read. Stewart’s poetic and compelling writing, mixed with vignettes of everyday life, demonstrate the importance for paying attention to the affective dimensions of everyday life.
And a few titles I’m itching to read:
Jean Baudrillard, Cool Memories II, 1987–1990 (1996)
I own a ton of Baudrillard’s books, and strangely enough I go to him when I need comfort reading. Cool Memories II is in the same vein as his classic work America, and contains Baudrillard’s takes on everything from Reagan’s smile and Kennedy’s death to waterfalls, stealth bombers, and Italian politics.
C.L. R. James, Beyond a Boundary: 50th Anniversary Edition (2013)
I don’t know anything about cricket, but want to. Sports Illustrated named this one of the Top 50 Sports Books of All Time. That endorsement along with James’ stature is all I need to get me started.
Eugenie Brinkema, The Forms of the Affects (2014)
Marking a new turn in affect theory and film studies, Brinkema studies works by Barthes, Freud, Hitchcock, and David Lynch to show how paying attention to form, structure, and aesthetics enables a fundamental rethinking of the study of sensation. And besides, who can’t pass up reading a book that looks this good?
These great books and all other in-stock titles are 50% off through June 20. See the fine print here. Shop now!