As the weather cools and the holiday season approaches, treat yourself to one of our great new December titles!
In On Paradox, Elizabeth S. Anker contends that the faith in the logic of paradox has been the watermark of left intellectualism since the second half of the twentieth century, showing how paradox generates the very exclusions it critiques and undercuts theory’s commitment to social justice.
Piro Rexhepi explores the overlapping postsocialist and postcolonial border regimes in the Balkans that are designed to protect whiteness and exclude Muslim, Roma, and migrant communities in White Enclosures.
The contributors to Turning Archival, edited by Daniel Marshall and Zeb Tortorici, trace the rise of “the archive” as an object of historical desire and study within queer studies and examine how it fosters historical imagination and knowledge.
In Feltness, Stephanie Springgay considers socially engaged art as a practice of research-creation that germinates a radical pedagogy she calls feltness—a set of intimate practices of creating art based on touch, affect, relationality, love, and responsibility.
Ain’t But a Few of Us, edited by Willard Jenkins, presents over two dozen candid dialogues with Black jazz critics and journalists who discuss the barriers to access for Black jazz critics and how they contend with the world of jazz writing dominated by white men.
In Poverty and Wealth in East Africa, Rhiannon Stephens offers a conceptual history of how people living in eastern Uganda have sustained and changed their ways of thinking about wealth and poverty over the past two thousand years.
Examining a wide range of photography from across the global South, the contributors to Cold War Camera, edited by Thy Phu, Erina Duganne, and Andrea Noble, explore the visual mediation of the Cold War, illuminating how photography shaped how it was prosecuted and experienced.
Through close readings of slave narratives, scrapbooks, travel illustration, documentary film and photography, as well as collage, craft, and sculpture, Jasmine Nichole Cobb explores Black hair as a visual material through which to reimagine the sensual experience of Blackness in New Growth.
The contributors to New World Orderings, edited by Lisa Rofel and Carlos Rojas, demonstrate that China’s twenty-first-century rise occurs not only through economics and state politics, but equally through its relationships and interactions with the Global South.
Focusing on his personal day to day experiences of the “shelter-in-place” period during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, Alberto Moreiras offers a meditation on intellectual life and the nature of thought under the suspension of time and conditions of isolation in Uncanny Rest.
In Ruderal City, Bettina Stoetzer traces the more-than-human relationships between people, plants, and animals in contemporary Berlin, showing how Berlin’s “urban nature” becomes a key site in which notions of citizenship and belonging as well as racialized, gendered, and classed inequalities become apparent.
Veit Erlmann examines the role of copyright law in post-apartheid South Africa and its impact on the South African music industry in Lion’s Share, showing how copyright is inextricably entwined with race, popular music, postcolonial governance, indigenous rights, and the struggle to create a more equitable society.
Rumya Sree Putcha uses the figure of the Indian classical dancer to explore the complex dynamics of contemporary transnational Indian womanhood in The Dancer′s Voice.
In Feminism in Coalition Liza Taylor examines how U.S. women of color feminists’ coalitional collective politics of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s is an indispensable resource to contemporary political theory, feminist studies, and intersectional social justice activism.
Hiʻilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart charts the social history of ice in Hawaiʻi in Cooling the Tropics, showing how ice and refrigeration underpinned settler colonial ideas about race, environment, and the senses.
The contributors to Siting Postcoloniality, edited by Pheng Cheah and Caroline S. Hau, reevaluate the notion of the postcolonial by focusing on the Sino-sphere—the region of East and Southeast Asia that has been significantly shaped by relations with China throughout history.
Rupal Oza follows the social life of rape in rural northwest India to reveal how rape is a language through which issues ranging from caste to justice to land are contested in Semiotics of Rape.
Climate Change and the New Polar Aesthetics: Artists Reimagine the Arctic and Antarctic is a teachable book, clear enough for undergraduates and challenging enough to use with graduate students. The book engages feminist, Black, Indigenous, and non-Western perspectives to address the exigencies of the experience of the Anthropocene and its attendant ecosystem failures brought on by the burning of oil, gas, and coal that has led to polar ice and glacial melt, rising sea levels, deadly floods, fires, and climate-led migrations. The book addresses the way contemporary artists, activists, and filmmakers are devising a new polar aesthetics that challenges the dominant narrative of mainstream media, which equates climate change with apocalyptic spectacles of melting ice and desperate polar bears, and green capitalism with masculinist imagery of sublime wilderness and imperial heroics.
In what follows I present many different threads that you can use to connect the book to an already existing syllabi in a diverse range of courses. For those who have already taught my earlier books or articles but especially Gender on Ice: American Ideologies of Polar Expeditions (1993), you might also be interested in teaching this one as some of the artists were influenced by my earlier writings.
For feminist art history, visual culture or design classes, teachers might be interested in teaching Chapters 1 and 2. Though at first glance climate art and film on the polar region and the Circumpolar North might seem gender and race neutral, the feminist intersectional analysis of representation of the Arctic and Antarctic in these chapters suggests that this welcome reemergence of interest in polar narratives and art often comes wrapped in a colonial nostalgia for white male heroism. Chapter 1 on Antarctica focuses on four contemporary women artists — Anne Noble, Judit Hersko, Connie Samaras, and Joyce Campbell — whose work collectively creates a specifically feminist critical aesthetics that counters such an approach, since their art addresses the historic exclusion of women altogether from the continent until the 1960s and 1970s and the way the visual tropes of Antarctica as the last great wilderness on earth contribute to maintaining the perception that Antarctica is still an all-male continent or a living memorial to this earlier moment when only men could populate the continent.
Chapter 2 might also be of interest since it complicates official polar exploration art by creating plausible, yet fictional, accounts based on the historical record to address the climate crisis. Isaac Julien’s reformulation of the African American polar explorer Matthew Henson (1866 – 1955) not only makes Henson’s accomplishments part of northern polar exploration but creates a new fictional persona for him that challenges mainstream homophobic narratives of imperial heroics. Swedish artist Katja Aglert, in her conceptual project Winter Event — Antifreeze, uses a variety of media and aesthetic techniques to unsettle colonialist and nationalist masculinist history as the major mode of engagement in the Arctic till this day.
In Chapter 3 there is work on the new polar aesthetics that addresses questions of memory and what it means to make art and film about a warming Arctic without sentimentalizing or spectacularizing Indigenous suffering. Film and media studies scholars might be interested in my discussion of three innovative short films on the Arctic that call forth new representations of the climate crisis that focus on a world beset by uncertainty. An online documentary by Zacharias Kunuk and Ian Munro, titled Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change (2010), takes the perspective of an Igloolik community highly affected by climate change. It puts front and center communities from Canada’s Circumpolar North, who craft a decolonial method of knowledge production through filmmaking.
Chapters 4 and 5, cowritten with Elena Glasberg, suggests that the category of art continues to change as artists create new aesthetic arrangements of visibility capable of comprehending the material and representational aspects of climate breakdown (Roni Horn, Amy Balkin, Lillian Ball, Andrea Bowers and Annie Pootoogook). Artists and art historians might be interested in teaching these chapters as artists discussed in this section focus on some of these new aesthetic practices and the way they sensitize us to the unfolding process of climate breakdown. They also might be adopted in more general classes that include the iconic photography of Yosemite by Ansel Adams and Carleton Watkins and coverage of the pieces of land art or environmental art from the 1960s or 1970s. Teachers could juxtapose these earlier works with those emerging from Indigenous, feminist and non-western contexts in the Circumpolar North (Subhankar Banerjee, Andrea Bowers, Amy Balkin, amongst others) to consider a wider range of new directions in art, photography, and conceptual art that engages landscape, environment and ecology. Such approaches contest older romantic views of pristine nature in the Arctic that continues to be used to justify Indigenous absence rather than presence.
Again scholars of visual culture, film and media studies might be interested in Chapter 6 that focuses on innovative new-media films that take into account increased development by the oil industry, local knowledge, and the resilience of Indigenous communities. Combining strategies from documentary and speculative fiction genres, while incorporating scientific fact, these films demonstrate the challenges of representing the built-in invisibilities of climate change as well as the corporate obfuscations of the damage caused by extractivism. The chapter discusses experimental projects by the Swiss video artist Ursula Biemann and the Canadian filmmaker Brenda Longfellow to bring awareness to what is not otherwise fully visible by creating new forms of perception and representational framings that capture the intricacies of visibility.
Chapter 7 focuses on more collaborative and participatory forms of art and film to move students past the psychic numbing of being overwhelmed by climate change while demonstrating their own political agency as central to imagining and constructing a better world. Activist artists such as Liberate Tate, the British Platform collective, Not an Alternative, and the Yes Men express a desire for change within the museum system of sponsorship, governance, and finance. Their work aims at holding Western art, natural history, and science museums to account for their complicity through the solicitation and acceptance of corporate sponsorship, in enabling climate change and perpetuating the colonial narratives that underlie it.
The later chapters might be taught in a wider range of courses since they show how historically under-represented groups are also pioneering new forms of environmental justice work in their resistance, and this, too, applies to Arctic Inuit women activists discussed in this book, such as Sheila Watt-Cloutier who movingly demanded “the right to be cold.” Watt-Cloutier has been instrumental in shaping an environmental justice campaign and has been widely recognized for suggesting that climate change is a matter of both Indigenous and multispecies survival (chapters 6, 7 and epilogue). For her “if we don’t have our environment, we cannot survive. “ Artists, writers, activists, and filmmakers in Climate Change and the New Polar Aesthetics share her vision in creating an alternative voice for the future, one opposed to the seemingly inevitable colonial imaginary for which the environment is a means that supports the ends of unregulated capitalism and hyperextractivism.
Lisa E. Bloom is Scholar-in-Residence at the Beatrice Bain Research Group in the Department of Gender and Women’s studies, University of California, Berkeley, and author of Gender On Ice: American Ideologies of Polar Expeditions. We invite you to request an exam copy on our website, and your students can save 30% on Climate Change and the New Polar Aesthetics with coupon E22BLOOM.
The Three Johns were one of my favorite bands in the mid-1980s. Hailing from Leeds, this late period post-punk outfit held my teenage imagination because they made beatbox-driven, Captain Beefheart-esque music with lyrics that as a burgeoning young Marxist I really got lost in. My head was full of the fictions etched in lead singer John Hyatt’s sometimes opaque and absurd, other times more directly political lyrics. “Oh the mob expects malnutrition,” Hyatt sings, “Robots are guarding that old ribcage fashion / Flamin’ torches, pick axe handles / Looking down the water-cannon of pop music,” before then going on to chorus “Rock and roll, rock and roll, rock n roll / is an ideological product” and – genius I thought – “Rock and roll is pop music / For the credit card hospital.” I really loved the irony of these lines. The Johnnies were holding up their sullied hands, signalling how the capitalist entertainment business could be treacherous and betray the intentions of even the most ardent Lefty rockers.
TRACK 1: The Three Johns, Sun of Mud, 1984
But I wasn’t drawn to The Three Johns solely because of their avowed political stance, nor even simply because I liked jumping around to their music, usually while drunk. They loomed large for me then because I also knew from reading the NME that two of the Three Johns went to art school. The art connection was unmistakably present on the band’s record covers which featured paintings by Hyatt, drawings by Jon Langford, and work by the post-conceptual British artist Terry Atkinson. Atkinson was then teaching in the Fine Art studios at the University of Leeds where Hyatt and Langford had been his students.
No Machos or Pop Stars explores the impact and significance of UK art education upon the course of popular music around the time of punk rock. Focusing upon the overlooked history of radical art school pedagogy and music in Leeds, the book shows how England’s state-funded education policy brought together art students from different social classes to create a fertile ground for musical experimentation. It delineates the conditions of possibility which birthed The Three Johns alongside Gang of Four, Delta 5, Soft Cell, Mekons, Scritti Politti, Fad Gadget and other post-punk, electro-pop and art-punk bands – and ultimately shows the subversive influence of art school in a regional music scene of lasting international significance.
Students at the University of Leeds in the mid-1970s found themselves in a visual art department with an unusually radical outlook. Spearheaded by department chair, and social historian of art, T.J. Clark alongside feminist scholar Griselda Pollock and post-conceptual artist Terry Atkinson, such students were steeped in forms of critical thinking about art that soon found unlikely expression in music. After seeing the Sex Pistols and other punk bands at Leeds Polytechnic in December 1976, soon-to-be-members of Gang of Four, Mekons and Delta 5 started to make music that showed a debt to its art school origins.
TRACK 2: Gang of Four, At Home He’s a Tourist, 1979
‘At Home He’s Tourist’ was conceived and recorded at the same time as guitarist Andy Gill and vocalist Jon King were completing their history of art dissertations on Manet and Carl Andre respectively at the Leeds department. The thematic preoccupations of the song with alienated pleasures (“At home he feels like a tourist / He fills his head with culture / He gives himself an ulcer”), alongside its “dislocated” musical composition, bears the imprint of social analyses by Marx and Simmel read by members of the band at the time. As Gill has said: “A lot of the ideas that we talked about, that TJ Clark was talking about […] informed the attitudes and words of Gang of Four.”
Meanwhile, Green Gartside, then a student of visual art at nearby Leeds Polytechnic, took the link between critical theory and music production even further. Influenced by the conceptual art collective Art & Language, he took it upon himself to read the work of theorists and philosophers not included in the studio teaching of the university’s sister organisation. Staying away from his studio space for long periods of time, preferring instead the sanctuary of the library or his student flat, Gartside sought to inform himself of the intellectual resources to question the habitual beliefs that surrounded art-making in the mid-seventies. After punk, and joined by fellow art student Tom Morley and old friend Nial Jinks, he founded band Scritti Politti which soon took this theorising from art to music. The band’s first single, the dissonant Skank Bloc Bologna, can be heard as a musical expression straining to find the language to represent – and hold together – the tensions and contradictions of revolutionary agency as theorised in the writings of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. The song flirts with different musical genres, without committing wholeheartedly to any single one: there is a rudimentary dub feel to the rhythm, to the looping bass and rimshots, but the insistent use of the open “hi-hat” (actually empty metal film cans), the unruly almost maniacally untutored glockenspiel (or what sounds like a glockenspiel), even some anomalous rock fills, create the sense of a rhythm section at odds with itself. This is even before we consider the angular-sounding chords strummed on the guitar which, on beat one, all but obliterate any skanking stroke on beats two and four. This is confusing, our expectation frustrated. Skanking, at least, appears to be at the song’s titular heart.
TRACK 4: The Mekons, Never Been in a Riot, 1979
The Mekons and Delta 5 took the art school preoccupation with formal experimentation in a slightly different direction – to the social form of the band itself. In a bid to eschew the single white male authorial voice, the Mekons decided to sport two vocalists rather than one; on the understanding, presumably, that more than one singer (or leader) secured a greater likelihood of remaining open to dissent and difference, even though effectively resulting in more white frontmen. Similarly, Delta 5 attempted to de-emphasise singular band members and the hero-worship which could follow from it by habitually swapping roles in live performances of songs like Triangle, where Julz Sale and Ros Allen would often switch places between vocals and bass playing. This was also a feature of early Gang of Four performances of tracks like ‘It’s Her Factory’.
TRACK 5, Delta 5, Triangle (John Peel session)
Destroying traditional rock band formats was an important feminist priority in the Leeds milieu. Allen has said: “Bethan (Peters) and I noted that most women who were involved [in rock bands], if they weren’t the singer, they were the bass player. We wanted to play on that by having two basses: Ros was a bass player, and Bethan was a bass player […] We wanted to take the piss out of the fact that nearly every punk band, or band around, that had a female in it, always played the bass.” Allen wanted her bass so deep that “it made you fart” when it came out of the amplifier she further recalls. Playing off a “toppy” bass against a “bottom-y” one became trademark Delta 5 sound.
TRACK 6: Delta 5, Alone, 1980
‘Alone’ was a live favourite and never released as a studio recording. The insistent assertion of a female need to be alone resonated darkly in the context of the Yorkshire Ripper’s reign of terror in West Yorkshire in the 1970s. The late Jules Sale recalled that “the first time that we played it, Andy Gill (of Gang of Four) said afterwards to change it, because it initially ended up on a hysterical note. He said you’ve got to bring it down. So that you’re not this hysterical woman. And that’s one of the best things that Gill said.” This is a recording of a performance at Hurrah in New York in 1980.
The pedagogy of the Fine Art Department at Leeds Polytechnic drew more heavily upon European models of early-twentieth century avant-gardism than that at the university. Students who studied there were encouraged to explore the aesthetics of shock and surrealist collage, especially through forms of intermedia or performance art. To aid students in this, Polytechnic facilities included a small sound studio and performance area – somewhat unusual for a 1970s UK art college. Students that used these resources included Frank Tovey, later to become known as electro-industrial music pioneer Fad Gadget, and Dave Ball and Marc Almond who formed pop duo Soft Cell at the Fine Art Christmas Party in December 1979. ‘Diminished Responsibility’, released sometime after Tovey graduated from Leeds on 1981 album Incontinent, continues the ethos of Tovey’s experiments with unsettling drone-based sound continua whilst making performance art at the Polytechnic. Tovey was interested in the power of music and performance to shock and unsettle, and the pulsing sense of electronic unease evident here is enhanced by mechanised and whispering voices, sudden canon and gunshot sounds, and the calls to action of militaristic music and a sergeant major. The horror of diminished military responsibility?
TRACK 8: Soft Cell, The Girl with the Patent Leather Face, 1981
An early demo version of this Soft Cell track was recorded in the Leeds Polytechnic sound studio and engineered in their tutor John Darling’s home studio in Yorkshire. The song lyrically luxuriates in empathic ventriloquy of the song’s mutant heroine: “You can laugh, point at me / They do it all the time / But how would you like it if you had / A face like mine” sings Marc Almond, from the “Girl’s” point of view. The song starts with a note of sci-fi horror but it soon becomes apparent that the true horror here is the treatment the song’s protagonist receives from the normals (“A target for the freaks and creeps / A reject of the human race”). Almond’s vocals are accompanied by Dave Ball’s buzzing electronics and manipulated sounds.
TRACK 9: Graeme Miller & Steve Shill (aka The Commies From Mars)
In the 1981 BBC television documentary A Town Like New Orleans? Miller and Shill appear as The Commies From Mars, driving around post-industrial Leeds in their Morris Minor Traveller. They seem like spirit-guides for that time and place, providing its soundscape in oddball, Casio-inflected DIY electronica. Shill was a fine art student at the university, one-time bass player for art school outfit Sheeny and the Goys, and Miller studied Spanish. They made music together as the Commies but also for the theatrical productions of Impact Theatre Cooperative, of which they were members. This recording comes from the soundtrack recorded by the duo for children’s TV programme The Moomins, first screened in the UK in 1983. The track was released on vinyl by Finders Keepers in 2016.
TRACK 10: Ron Crowcroft, Gogo dancer, 1981
Crowcroft was influenced by Fluxus artists whilst an art student at Leeds and this continued to be evident in the electronic music he began to make after graduating in the early 1980s. ‘Gogo Dancer’’s charm lies in its repetitive, almost roboticized simplicity – all achieved through DIY use of cheaply available electronic instruments and pre-set drumlines. Originally released on a cassette compilation Overarm Delivery, VEC Audio Editions No. 10, 1981, it found distribution through the sharing possibilities of early eighties cassette culture, thereby by-passing the need for record companies to achieve a “release.”
Order No Machos or Pop Stars(and all our in-stock and pre-order titles) for 50% off through October 28 with coupon FL22. After October 28, you can still save 30% with coupon E22MACHO. If ordering from outside North and South America, we suggest purchasing from our UK-based distributor, Combined Academic Publishers, using the same coupon codes.
Today is World Photography Day—an international celebration and recognition of photography’s history, art, craft, and science. Join in the festivities by checking out some of our new, upcoming, and recent titles on photography.
A Time of Youth by William Gedney brings together 89 of the more than 200 photographs he took in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood between October 1966 and January 1967, documenting the restless and intertwined lives of the disenchanted youth who flocked to what became the epicenter of 1960s counterculture. Edited by Lisa McCarty, the book also features an essay by Philip Gefter.
Nicole Erin Morse’s new book Selfie Aesthetics blends trans studies and visual culture by examining how women feminine artists use selfies and self-representational art to explore how selfies produce politically meaningful encounters between creators and viewers in ways that envision trans feminist futures.
Warring Visionsby Thy Phu explores photographs produced by dispersed communities throughout Vietnam and the Vietnamese diaspora, both during and after the Vietnam War, to understandings of how war is waged, experienced, and resolved.
Showing how empire continues to haunt South Asian American visual cultures, Bakirathi Mani examines the visual and affective relationships between South Asian diasporic viewers, artists, and photographic representations of immigrant subjects in Unseeing Empire.
In the forthcoming title Wake Up, This is Joburg, writer Tanya Zack and photographer Mark Lewis offer a stunning portrait of Johannesburg and personal stories of its residents, showing how its urban transformation occurs not in a series of dramatic, wide-scale changes but in the everyday lives, actions, and dreams of individuals.
Allison Moore’s recent book Embodying Relation examines the tensions between the local and the global in the art photography movement that blossomed in Bamko, Mali, in the 1990s, showing contemporary Malian photography to be a rich example of Western notions of art meeting traditional cultural precepts to forge new artistic forms, practices, and communities.
Showing how photography both reflected and actively contributed to social and political change, Unfixedby Jennifer Bajorek traces the relationship between photography and decolonial politics in Francophone west Africa in the years immediately leading up to and following the independence from French colonial rule in 1960.
Those interested in European studies and architecture may enjoy William Craft Brumfield’s recent book Journeys through the Russian Empire. The lavishly illustrated volume documents Russia’s architectural, artistic, and cultural heritage while juxtaposing the hundreds of full-color images of Russian architecture and landscapes taken by early-twentieth-century photographer Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky with those of contemporary photographer and scholar William Craft Brumfield.
Photographic Returns by Shawn Michelle Smith engages with photography by Sally Mann, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, and others to trace how historical moments come to be known photographically and the ways in which the past continues to inhabit, punctuate, and transform the present through the photographic medium.
Sarah Eckhart’s Working Together, which accompanies an exhibition of the photography of Virginia artist Louis Draper and other members of the Kamoinge Workshop, now at the Getty Museum, includes more than 140 photographs by fourteen of the early members of the Workshop.
Also, check out Trans Asia Photography, an open-access journal devoted to the interdisciplinary exploration of historic and contemporary photography from Asia and across the Asian diaspora.
Be sure to learn about our new titles in photography. Sign up for our e-mail newsletters, and get notifications of new titles in your preferred disciplines as well as discounts and other news.
To kick off Open Access Week this year, we’re proud to announce that Trans Asia Photography, an open-access journal, is joining the Duke University Press publishing program beginning with its 2022 volume. We’re thrilled to have TAP on board!
TAP, a biannual journal edited by Deepali Dewan, Yi Gu, and Thy Phu, is the first and only open-access international peer-reviewed journal devoted to the interdisciplinary exploration of historic and contemporary photography from Asia and across the Asian diaspora. The journal examines all aspects of photographic history, theory, and practice by centering images in or of Asia, conceived here as a territory, network, and cultural imaginary. Bridging photography and area studies, the journal rethinks transnational and transcultural approaches and methodologies. The journal brings together the perspectives of scholars, critics, and creatives across the humanities and social sciences to advance original and innovative research on photography and Asia, and to reflect and encourage quality, depth, and breadth in the field’s development.
“The editorial team of Trans Asia Photography is thrilled to join Duke University Press,” wrote the editors. “Since its founding more than a decade ago, TAP has maintained its commitment to be at the forefront of scholarship on Asia and photography, both nurturing and reflecting this emerging field. Central to its success has been a commitment to open-access publication, which has allowed us to move beyond a western academic audience to scholars, curators, artists, and professionals in Asia and beyond. We are excited that Duke University Press shares our commitment to open-access principles. Indeed, we can think of no better home than Duke for carrying out the journal’s vision for transforming the history of photography by centering Asia and for re-thinking Asia through the study of photography.”
From the beginning, the journal was conceived as an online resource where readers from anywhere could read about previously unknown histories of photography, engage with new ways of thinking about past and present photographic work, see photographs that otherwise would be unavailable to them, and learn about relevant books, archives, exhibitions, and symposia. By centering photographic practices of Asia and its diasporas, the journal foregrounds multiple ways of seeing, knowing, and being, which are distinct yet inseparable from other regional formations.
“The addition of TAP adds another exciting publication to DUP’s growing list of outstanding open-access titles,” wrote Erich Staib, Associate Journals Director. “We are delighted to be working together with the editors to further develop the journal and increase its global profile. TAP joins DUP’s broad presence in Asian studies and will be a strong complement to the publishing we do across the field and beyond it.”
Recent issues of the journal have centered on the title’s keywords “trans” and “Asia,” and readers can look forward to TAP’s spring issue examining “photography” to close out this series. Future issues of the journal will focus on themes of amateurism, photobooks, and digitalities.
Start off the semester strong by perusing our new September releases!
Drawing on oral and written testimonies from academics and students who have made complaints about harassment, bullying, and unequal working conditions at universities, Sara Ahmed examines what we can learn about power from those who complain about abuses of power in Complaint! Angela Y. Davis says, “Complaint! is precisely the text we need at this moment as we seek to understand and transform the institutional structures promoting racism and heteropatriarchy.”
The contributors to Assembly Codes: The Logistics of Media, edited by Matthew Hockenberry, Nicole Starosielski, and Susan Zieger, document how media and logistics—the techniques of organizing and coordinating the movement of materials, bodies, and information—are co-constitutive and key to the circulation of information and culture.
In Philosophy for Spiders: On the Low Theory of Kathy Acker, McKenzie Wark combines an autobiographical account of her relationship with Kathy Acker with her transgender reading of Acker’s writing to outline Acker’s philosophy of embodiment and its importance for theorizing the trans experience.
The contributors to Embodying Black Religions in Africa and Its Diasporas, edited by Yolanda Covington-Ward and Jeanette S. Jouili, investigate the complex intersections between the body, religious expression, and the construction and negotiation of social relationships and collective identities throughout the Black diaspora.
Sarah Jane Cervenak traces how Black artists and writers who create alternative spaces for Black people to gather free from those Enlightenment philosophies that presume Black people and land as given to enclosure and ownership in Black Gathering: Art, Ecology, Ungiven Life.
Andil Gosine revises understandings of queer desire in the Caribbean in Nature’s Wild, Love, Sex and the Law in the Caribbean, showing how the very concept of homosexuality in the Caribbean (and in the Americas more broadly) has been overdetermined by a colonially-influenced human/animal divide.
As you finish up the semester, considering rewarding yourself with new books! Here’s what we have coming out in May.
In Songbooks, veteran music critic and popular music scholar Eric Weisbard offers a critical guide to American popular music writing, from William Billings’s 1770 New-England-Psalm-Singer to Jay-Z’s 2010 memoir Decoded.
In Black Bodies, White Gold, Anna Arabindan-Kesson examines how cotton became a subject for nineteenth-century art by tracing the symbolic and material correlations between cotton and Black people in British and American visual culture.
Max Liboiron models an anticolonial scientific practice in Pollution Is Colonialism, aligned with Indigenous concepts of land, ethics, and relations to outline the entanglements of capitalism, colonialism, and environmental science.
The Genealogical Imagination by Michael Jackson juxtaposes ethnographic and imaginative writing to explore intergenerational trauma and temporality, showing how genealogy becomes a powerful model for understanding our experience of being in the world.
Editor Lisa Björkman and contributors to Bombay Brokers provide thirty-six character profiles of men and women whose knowledge and labor—which is often seen as morally suspect—are essential for navigating everyday life in Bombay, one of the world’s most complex, dynamic, and populous cities.
Christopher Tounsel investigates the centrality of Christian worldviews to the ideological construction of South Sudan from the early twentieth century to the present in Chosen Peoples.
Brian Russell Roberts dispels continental-centric US national mythologies in Borderwaters to advance an alternative image of the United States as an archipelagic nation to better reflect its claims to archipelagoes in the Pacific and Caribbean.
Palestine Is Throwing a Party and the Whole World Is Invited by Kareem Rabie examines how Palestine’s desire to fully integrate its economy into global markets through large-scale investment projects represented a shift away from political state building with the hope that a thriving economy would lead to a free and functioning Palestinian state.
Liz P. Y. Chee complicates understandings of Chinese medicine as timeless and unchanging in Mao’s Bestiary by historicizing the expansion of animal-based medicines in the social and political environment of early Communist China.
A Time of Youth: San Francisco, 1966-1967 by William Gedney brings together eighty-seven of the more than two thousand photographs Gedney took in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood between October 1966 and January 1967 while on a Guggenheim Fellowship. In these photographs Gedney documents the restless and intertwined lives of the disenchanted youth who flocked to what became the epicenter of 1960s counterculture.
William Gedney intended to publish the series as a book and completed a draft design in 1969. Gedney also wrote a formal statement about the project and notes on his preferred scale and dimensions for the book. Sadly Gedney was never able to publish A Time of Youth in his lifetime. However, his original design, notes, and prints are preserved and accessible at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University, which is where Lisa McCarty first encountered A Time of Youth in 2014.
More than fifty years after Gedney completed the design, A Time of Youth has finally been published. We’re pleased to share a conversation between McCarty, the book’s editor, and the designer, Amy Ruth Buchanan, about how they realized Gedney’s vision for the publication.
Lisa: I remember the first time I visited the Press and presented the photographs from A Time of Youth and Gedney’s notes on the book design. There were audible ooh’s and ahh’s as I moved through my slideshow. Was there something specific about the San Francisco photographs that captured your attention? Or was it the knowledge of a dormant publication and Gedney’s struggle to publish them that you found compelling?
Amy: Absolutely both! I had known and loved Gedney’s work for a while, a love likely rooted in my long-ago subscription to DoubleTake magazine, as well as my familiarity with the earlier book What Was True: The Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney, edited by Geoff Dyer and Margaret Sartor. But the show you mounted at Perkins Library and the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in the fall of 2015 was a big deal. Before seeing that exhibit, I didn’t really know about his work as a designer, his meticulous notebooks and his carefully planned maquettes for proposed books. As a lover of photography and book design, it was poignant and inspiring to see these items from the collection. When I heard you were in discussions with the Press to bring us one or more of these never-realized books, I was thrilled.
And then, yes, the photos themselves are completely captivating. So intimate and textured. Some of the young people appear again and again so they are like characters in a novella. He mentions this himself in one of the notebook pages you reproduce: “I am attempting a literary form in visual terms I am telling a story with characters that reappear and scenes that are repeated.”
Do you know if any of these people have been tracked down as Gedney’s work has garnered more and more attention? I wonder what they thought of Gedney.
Lisa: I’m so glad you remember the exhibition I organized of Gedney’s book designs and that it made an impact on you. Intimate Gestures: Handmade Books by William Gedney, was the first exhibit to highlight Gedney’s work as a designer and book artist. So many artists and curators came to know Gedney through Dyer and Sartor’s book, and later the book that the photographer Alec Soth edited. But very few people know about Gedney’s commitment to books or that there are seven complete book designs in his archive. I hope A Time of Youth begins to reveal this other side of Gedney’s artistic practice.
But in terms of the people depicted in A Time of Youth, during my time as curator of Gedney’s archive from 2014-2019 unfortunately I never encountered any of his subjects/collaborators from San Francisco. There are many names of Gedney’s contacts in his journals and notebooks, but these names were not correlated with the images themselves. However, Gedney did met and spent a significant amount of time with the philosopher Eric Hoffer and his companion Lili Osborne while he was in San Francisco. Gedney actually corresponded with them for many years afterwards.
You’ve been able to work on several photography books for the Press, but A Time of Youth presented specific challenges and rewards. This is a posthumous publication, which precluded direct collaboration with the artist. And as editor, my concept was to preserve as many of William Gedney’s decisions as possible. Was this a daunting or exciting prospect for you as a designer?
Amy: Very daunting but I also felt confident that between the two of us, we could do the project justice. The question for each decision along the way was: how prescriptive was his choice here? How closely must we follow it? The starting place was the trim size: the maquettes are 8.5 inches square. We agreed from the very start that maintaining the square trim was important, but did it need to be exactly 8.5 inches? I knew a book that small would be lovely and unusual, but in the end we decided to go just a little bigger, 9” square, to give us room for the photos sized generously with handsome white margins.
Translating Gedney’s cover sketch into the final jacket was another challenge. His sketch includes hand-drawn type, as would have been the norm for a book designer at that time. The italic letterforms reminded me of a Bodoni typeface, with the exaggerated contrast of thick & thin strokes and the distinctive, jaunty little upstrokes on the italics. I chose another typeface, Kepler, from the same family as Bodoni, the Didones. Kepler is named for the German mathematician Johannes Kepler—I think Gedney, the meticulous planner, might have liked that (I’m thinking of his notebook pages on Japanese bookbinding styles).
Original book cover design by William Gedney
Throughout, of course, I relied on you, Lisa, as the Gedney expert to give feedback on many choices, big and small. You are also an artist and photographer yourself, so I knew you’d have helpful feedback on the image reproductions.
Did you find it hard to know where to draw the line when deciding how (and how much) to adjust his images for printing?
Lisa: In my mind, this was a HUGE responsibility and something I took very seriously. It was easy to establish that we shouldn’t crop ANYTHING and that we needed to preserve the sequence of the images. We also agreed that the documents and ephemera from Gedney’s journals shouldn’t be “cleaned up” or made to appear like fresh new paper.
But admittedly there were moments in the editing of the photographs themselves where I studied a dust spot (to make sure it was a dust spot) much longer than was probably necessary or I when I toggled changes in the tonal range repeatedly to make sure I wasn’t losing any information. But, this kind of meticulous work is something I do in the editing of my own photographs as well. So it was a familiar process with just a bit more weight to it. As an artist I know how important each of these decisions are and how they can affect the interpretation of the image.
We both agreed pretty quickly that the project ephemera should be featured prominently in the book. Were Gedney’s notes and journals inspiring? And is it difficult to work with ephemera in the design and printing process?
Amy: Oh I love working with ephemera. It’s such a gift to have this look into his life as a working artist. I love nothing more than hearing someone else’s shoptalk and these notebooks are very shoptalky! I am glad we were able to keep those images in full color. We had them carefully silhouetted so that the papers would sort of float on the white page—they have such presence. I can’t remember who pointed it out to me—you, or one of our designers, or both, but I love how the book ends with the word, “Wow,” in Gedney’s hand.
Lisa: Yes! Concluding the book with the “Wow” entry from Gedney’s handwritten list of “words used in San Francisco” was definitely intentional. I wanted Gedney to have the first and last words in the book, and the “Wow” entry seemed like a perfect ending.
Page from William Gedney’s list of words used in San Francisco
Amy: I am always fascinated by writers and researchers who get to immerse themselves in an archive. I imagine it is by turns overwhelming, intoxicating, emotional, and tedious. Do you remember moments from your early encounters with the Gedney archive?
Lisa: Oh, yes! I remember the first time I saw the book projects and A Time of Youth particularly. It was during my first month, maybe even the first few weeks, on the job as curator of the Archive of Documentary Arts in the Rubenstein Library back in 2014. I was getting a tour of the Technical Services department where archives are housed and cataloged. Before I started the job, the Library had decided to prioritize the Gedney’s archive for re-housing (getting new boxes, folders, ect.) and the boxes lined a long row of 8-foot-tall library shelves. I was familiar with Gedney’s work from studying with Margaret Sartor and Alex Harris, and had used the Gedney collection in the reading room of the Library. But I hadn’t seen the archive laid out all together at once until that moment. It was overwhelming at first, but also so inspiring.
At first, I didn’t know where to begin. What box do you open when presented with a wall of nearly 60,000 items made by one person over the course of a lifetime? I scanned the labels on the MANY boxes and saw one labeled “Book Projects.” I was working on my own first book of photographs at the time, and the prospect of a Gedney book piqued my curiosity. I pulled the box off the shelf and was treated to a treasure trove. I think I stayed the rest of the afternoon to look at everything. This first encounter was really one of those magical and revelatory research moments. I felt lucky, inspired, surprised, and a little melancholy all at once; these beautiful books had been completed and dormant for so long. I knew on the spot that the finished book should be published.
Gedney Journal entry, March 22-23, 1969 (has the quote Amy mentions)
Amy: There’s an intriguing note in one of the journal pages about the difficulty of working in spreads, that the need to have two images on a spread that are “congenial” with one another might occasionally mean you put in “a lot of pictures that are only half as good.” I can’t really imagine which ones he is talking about. Do you have a favorite pairing from his sequence?
Lisa: I love that note too! Gedney was perhaps his own toughest critic, but I think this made him an extraordinary editor of his own work. There’s so many interesting and sensitive pairings, but my personal favorite is the spread with the two different couples entwined on opposite pages.
Spread from Gedney’s 1969 book design for A Time of Youth.
The same spread in the finished book.
Lisa McCarty is Assistant Professor of Photography at Southern Methodist University, author of Transcendental Concord, and coauthor of William Gedney: Only the Lonely 1955–1984. Amy Ruth Buchanan is the Design Manager for Books and Journals at Duke University Press. You can read McCarty’s introduction to A Time of Youthfree on our website. And save 30% on the book with coupon E21YOUTH.
Check out our newest “In Conversation” video, in which Editor Elizabeth Ault talks with Anna Watkins Fisher about her new book, The Play in the System: The Art of Parasitical Resistance. Fisher talks about what “parasitical resistance” is, about the ways in which the Trump Era has built on the Obama administration, and about thinking with Bong Joon-Ho’s film Parasite.
Every year we look forward to meeting authors in person at the NWSA Annual Meeting, and we are sad to be missing out on that this year. We know that many of you look forward to stocking up on new books at special discounts at our conferences, so we are pleased to extend a 50% discount on all in-stock books and journal issues with coupon code NWSA20 until November 23, 2020.
View our Women’s Studies catalog below for a complete list of all our newest titles in women, gender, and sexuality studies and across disciplines. You can also explore all of our books and journals in the field on dukeupress.edu.And although you cannot join us in the booth this year, you can listen to a number of our authors discuss their books through our In Conversation series on our YouTube channel.
Editor Elizabeth Ault has a message for everyone who would have attended NWSA this year, with her recommendations of the latest books in women, gender, and sexuality studies.
I was so looking forward to gathering with you all in the greatest city in the world, Minneapolis, this fall, but it’s not to be. I’m sending solidarity to all the folks who have been doing incredible organizing work there for years before the murder of George Floyd (#justiceforfonglee, #justiceforjamarclarke, #ceceisfree, #cecetaughtme #justiceforphilandocastile) and continue to provide networks of care and support every dang day.
I am so excited to be in conversation with y’all about the feminist work in Black studies, disability studies, geography, trans studies, queer theory, history, and more that has its home at NWSA. Please sign up for office hours to discuss your work with me here.
In the meantime, I know many of you are shopping the sale. Here are some crucial feminist texts that would never have made it to 50% off day in the booth–and you can get them shipped directly to you for 50% off from our website!!! You’ll see important strands of Black feminist thought and queer theory throughout these books, so I’ve tried to organize them more by method and topic to help you find what you’re looking for.
I’m writing this in late October and you’ll be reading it on the other side of whatever happens on November 3. Regardless, I’m confident these books have important wisdom to offer us as we move through this extraordinarily painful year, fortified by the work of organizers in Minneapolis and around the world, and by these thinkers and writers. They’re all helping us to imagine the world we want to live in and work to make it possible.
Jih-Fei Cheng, Alex Juhasz, and Nishant Shahani’s AIDS and the Distribution of Crises comes directly out of that scholarly/activist nexus, bringing together insights from a range of fields and positions about the ongoing viral crises that COVID-19 cratered into this winter. Sima Shakhsari’s book The Politics of Rightful Killing looks at transnational online networks of writers and activists to consider how Iranians in the diaspora and Iran itself thought about reconstituting democracy. Jillian Hernandez’s Aesthetics of Excess is right there too, drawing on her work with Black and Latina girls in Women on The Rise in Miami.
Alongside the amazing art Jillian and her interlocutors at WOTR created, much of which is included in full color in the book, we have some really amazing feminist art books out right now. Lorraine O’Grady’s work was at the center of the mind-blowing, pathbreaking We Wanted a Revolution show at the Brooklyn Museum a few years back, and now she has her own solo show there, accompanied by this new book of her writings about art practice and her vision for a Black feminist art world, Writing in Space. Maya Stovall has been performing and showing Liquor Store Theatre, a Detroit-based art and performance project for several years; her book by the same name considers the project as an ethnographic one reimagining what dispossessed neighborhoods in Detroit might still play host to. Bakirathi Mani’s new book, Unseeing Empire, centers work by South Asian women artists Annu Matthew, Seher Shah, and Gauri Gill to consider how empire continues to haunt South Asian desires for representation and representability.
And Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s Dub is a work of art–no less than an oracle for our times.
Another oracular work newly available is Jose Munoz’s posthumous Sense of Brown. This book is deep and lasting and Jose’s influence and importance is so clear and undeniable. More theoretical work on this list alongside Jose’s is Cressida Heyes’s book Anaesthetics of Existence, which is really speaking to me as this year continues to take and take. It’s a feminist phenomenology for this moment. Other books theorizing embodiment here include Neetu Khanna’s Visceral Logics of Decolonization, and Naked Agency, in which author Naminata Diabate considers women’s naked protests across Africa and the diaspora as a weighty, powerful form of vulnerable resistance.
Diabate’s work is embedded in a long history of such protests–new feminist history work from Brandi Brimmer, Francoise Verges, and Lynn Thomas provides important tools for understanding how we got here, and how things could be different.
Relations, the topic of Strathern’s capacious theorization, are also at the foundation of Brigitte Fielder’s rethinking of kinship and race. Her book is part of a strong list in queer and feminist cultural and literary studies that includes new books from Jack Halberstam (important queer theory, yes, but also important Kate Bush content!), Bo Ruberg (whose new book series is accepting proposals), Gillian Harkins (why are you still watching To Catch a Predator? I mean, you won’t after reading this book), Cait McKinney (the book we fondly refer to as “how lesbians invented the internet”), Erica Fretwell (She’ll make you care about The Yellow Wallpaper again, through centering the role of SMELL of all things), and Sam Pinto (the definitive take on Sarah Baartman and Sally Hemings that you have been waiting for!!).
That’s a lot of books! There’s so much richness and brilliance here. I’m excited to hear what you think about these books and how they’re informing your own work on twitter and in my office hours. In the meantime, keep well.
If you were hoping to connect with Elizabeth Ault or another of our editors about your book project at NWSA, please reach out to them by email. See our editors’ specialties and contact information here and our online submissions guidelines here.