Music

A “Roadrunner” Playlist: Guest Post by Joshua Clover

RoadrunnerThis is a blog post to accompany a playlist to accompany a book, Roadrunner. The book is about the song “Roadrunner” but about never gets it right. I’ll try to say something more useful in a minute but before I forget, some notes on the playlist. There are in truth two. Faster Miles an Hour is the bare bones version featuring songs central to the book’s ideas. Faster and Then Some  includes all those songs and numerous others that come up over the course of the book, more or less in the order they appear, not every single title mentioned, but every song that gets a gloss, even if it is just a sentence. Well, almost every song. Some songs are missing from Spotify and some are misnamed. There is a track correctly labeled “Roadrunner (Twice)” but the track called “Roadrunner” should rightly be titled “Roadrunner (Once)”; this distinction is at the heart of Chapter 2. A live version released as a B side in 1977, discussed at the outset of Chapter 3, cannot be found on Spotify but here it is: “Roadrunner (Thrice).” That chapter concludes by revisiting “Johnny B. Goode” and mentions in passing the Sex Pistols cover, which as many will recall, they assay as part of a catastrophic two-song medley with the book’s title song: “Johnny B Goode/Road Runner.” Chapter 4, oriented by a Cornershop song secretly recasting “Roadrunner” from the Global South, culminates with discussion of an extended mix; the playlist has the radio edit, but not the miraculous “Brimful of Asha (Norman Cook Remix Extended Version).” Finally, the last chapter returns to the title song via a later Jonathan Richman track of profound sweetness, also absent: “Chewing Gum Wrapper.

modern loversThis book is not about any of these songs. And if it is about “Roadrunner” that is because “Roadrunner” is about much more than it lets on. It can’t help it, that is how songs work, drawing some portion of the everything into themselves whether they mean to or not. The book claims early on, “it is the greatest rock song of all time, or the greatest American rock song of all time, or the greatest American rock song of that era.” But it continues, “I offer those specifications not to diminish the claim but because ‘American’ and ‘rock’ matter to the song and to this book, and ‘that era’ matters.” If the book is about the song, this is because it is trying to understand what America is, and where it is going, and it approaches this by trying to think about the world that the song makes available, that thing of which it cannot help but be a trace — trying to think about the situation in the United States in and around 1972 when the song was recorded. Or some fraction of that situation. I am especially interested in that relatively recent phenomenon that has transformed the life of pretty much everyone on the planet: capitalism, a disaster that, across the globe and the centuries, took its most pure form with the industrial boom in the United States after World War II, during the exact years that would mark the rise & peak of rock & roll. These two things are, I think, inseparable, and that inseparability is the book’s topic, and how that allows for a revised history of the genre. Or maybe it is about the largely unremarked story that rock & roll can’t stop telling from the very start, what I call the ur-story, which contains a great paradox and yet is made of simple pieces that snap together into that astounding and finally awful thing called rock music, a story which will never be told more magically than in “Roadrunner.” Or maybe it is just about driving around.

But now I am at risk of summarizing a book that is already itself a summary, of explaining a book that is an effort at explanation, of revising a book that is already a revision. So I will turn away, which is ironic, since if you are driving along a ring road, as the song does and as the book does, the ring road outside the Boston metropolitan area, the ring road of global history, then you are always turning away, just as you are always turning toward. I will turn for a minute toward a personal story. This is the inaugural title in Singles, a series which I co-edit, each book about a single song. We made a few agreements when we were just starting out, my co-editor Emily J. Lordi and I. For example, we agreed that we would limit the number of classic rock titles in the series, though I was granted an exception as a founding editor. As a corollary we decided to avoid Bob Dylan books, not because there were no good ones left out there but because there were surely quite a few, and yet it was not clear that the world needed our help in churning them into the open air. We agreed to leave them in the ground. And we also agreed that the books should be very limited in their autobiographical scope. There can be little doubt that there is something deeply personal in how we come to love songs, but that is not the same as what is interesting about a song, what a song can know about the world, and that finally is where our commitments lie. So I have tried to leave almost all of that out, save the fact that I happened to be a kid in Boston during the period when the song was recorded and released and recorded and released and recorded and released — it kept happening, in very confusing ways — and that no doubt shapes my attachment.

But the personal story I want to sneak into this note happens in Berkeley in 1981. It goes like this. One afternoon I was walking across campus, something I did quite often as someone who was neither enrolled nor employed and was mostly on acid. It was a good walk and it stood between some friends on northside and the bookstores on southside. So I was walking across campus high on acid and looking for street performers to help kill some of the time I was trying so relentlessly to annihilate. I had a few regulars I visited with, if they were around: the extremely delightful “Hate Man,” an interesting poet known as the “Bubble Lady,” numerous religious ranters, a rather dull political comic named Stoney Burke. If things broke right it could take me a couple hours to make my way from north to south, a journey of some 800 yards. Even longer if someone tried to induct me into a cult. I never wanted it to end because I never wanted to arrive anywhere. But on this particular day I was perilously close to reaching the southern edge of campus, having already passed through Sather Gate into the holy land of Upper Sproul Plaza, when I saw a few people standing around in a circle, no more than ten, and I heard from within that small circle what might have been the sound of singing. It was hard to tell, as I was at a bit of a distance, there was no singer in sight, and I was pretty high.

As I approached over the course of what seemed like a very long and distended time, it must have been about 120 feet, the mystery abated only slightly. There was definitely singing — sweet, labored, cheerful — but still no singer. When I drew pretty near I saw that one person was holding an acoustic guitar but really just holding it, like hold this for me for a minute, his hand on the headstock, its end pin resting on the dirty ground. The singing seemed to be coming from the ground as well? And indeed this turned out to be the case. There was some guy, he looked to be a teenager or maybe 40ish, and within this small circle of onlookers he was crawling on the dirty plaza just a few feet and a few years from Mario Savio and that police car and he was giving it his all.

Berkeley in 1981 not yet having fallen to the Buddhist billionaires and still being stocked with zanies just then showing their age, this was certainly within the range of local customs. But still, this is one of the moments where you check in with yourself to see if you can figure out how high you are really, and I believe I mentioned I was pretty high but I was pretty sure that this was really happening, an incredibly happy busker was crawling around on all fours, frolicking really, periodically looking up and singing in a pretty adorable a cappella, “I’m a little dinosaur.” It’s a song about an entire category of animal and how they have to go away and the children are sad and plead for the dinosaur to return and it does. And that was the first time I saw Jonathan Richman live, more than a decade after he wrote the greatest American rock song of the era, nearly a decade after he recorded it, about the same amount of time after he very carefully, very thoughtfully, utterly implausibly threw it all away. This is a book most of all about why someone might do such a thing.

Joshua Clover is the author of Roadrunner, the first book in the new series Singles. He is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Davis. Read the introduction to Roadrunner for free and save 50% on the book with coupon code FALL21.

New Books in September

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.”

Mark Rifkin examines nineteenth-century Native writings by William Apess, Elias Boudinot, Sarah Winnemucca, and and Zitkala-Ša to rethink and reframe contemporary debates around recognition, refusal, and resurgence for Indigenous peoples in Speaking for the People: Native Writing and the Question of Political Form.

In The Nature of Space, pioneering Afro-Brazilian geographer Milton Santos attends to globalization writ large and how local and global orders intersect in the construction of space.

In Hawaiʻi is my Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific, Nitasha Tamar Sharma maps the context and contours of Black life in Hawaiʻi, showing how despite the presence of anti-Black racism, the state’s Black residents consider it to be their haven from racism.

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.

In A Mass Conspiracy to Feed People: Food Not Bombs and the World-Class Waste of Global Cities David Boarder Giles traces the work of Food Not Bombs—a global movement of grassroots soup kitchens that recover wasted grocery surpluses and redistribute them to those in need—to examine the relationship between waste and scarcity in global cities under late capitalism and the fight for food justice

Patricia Stuelke traces the hidden history of the reparative turn, showing how it emerged out of the failed struggle against US empire and neoliberal capitalism in the 1970s and 1980s and unintentionally supported new forms of neoliberal and imperial governance in The Ruse of Repair: US Neoliberal Empire and the Turn from Critique.

Michael K. Bourdaghs, in A Fictional Commons: Natsume Sōseki and the Properties of Modern Literature, presents a radical reframing of the works of Natsume Sōseki—widely considered to be Japan’s greatest modern novelist—as critical and creative responses to the emergence of new forms of property ownership in nineteenth-century Japan.

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.

The exhibition catalog to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, by curator Valerie Cassel Oliver, chronicles the pervasive visual and sonic parallels in the work of Black artists from the southern United States.

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.

In Between Gaia and Ground: Four Axioms of Existence and the Ancestral Catastrophe of Late Liberalism, Elizabeth A. Povinelli theorizes how legacies of colonial violence and the ways dispossession and extraction that destroyed indigenous and colonized peoples’ lives now poses an existential threat to the West.

In Roadrunner, cultural theorist and poet Joshua Clover examines Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers’ 1972 song “Roadrunner,” charting its place in rock & roll history and American culture.

Drawing on close readings of 1960s American art, Jason A. Hoelscher offers an information theory of art and an aesthetic theory of information in which he shows how art operates as information wherein art’s meaning cannot be determined in Art as Information Ecology: Artworks, Artworlds, and Complex Systems Aesthetics.

Events in September

Several of our authors are giving talks online and even in person this month. Hope you can catch them! Please note the local time zone in each listing.

September 10, 1:00 pm EDT: Brown University Center for Middle East Studies sponsors a talk by Hagar Kotef, author of The Colonizing Self.

September 10, 3 pm EDT: Join the authors and editors of Meridians’ new issue, Transnational Feminist Approaches to Anti-Muslim Racism, for a conversation.

September 16, 6:30 pm EDT and September 17, 11 am EDT: The journal liquid blackness celebrates their first three issues with an online event, Atonal Symphonies: Conversations on Blackness and Liquidity at the Threshold of Thinking and Making.

September 20, 6:00 pm PDT: Joshua Clover, author of Roadrunner, will be in conversation with Justin Desmangles in an event sponsored by City Lights Bookstore.

September 23, 1:00 pm EDT: The CUNY Center for Place, Culture, and Politics sponsors a conversation between Kareem Rabie, author of Palestine Is Throwing a Party and the Whole World Is Invited and Mezna Qato and David Harvey. 

September 25, 2:45 pm EDT: Amitava Kumar appears in person at the Albany Book Festival, in conversation with Ayad Akhtar and Joe Donahue. Kumar is the author of several books, including A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb, and, most recently, Every Day I Write the Book.

September 28, 6:15 pm EDT:  The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University sponsors a talk by Kevin Fellezs, author of Listen But Don’t Ask Question

New Books in June

Looking for some summer reading? Check out the great new titles we have coming out in June!

Jennifer L. Morgan draws on the lived experiences of enslaved African women in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuries in Reckoning with Slavery to reveal the contours of early modern notions of trade, race, and commodification in the Black Atlantic.

In Decolonizing Memory, Jill Jarvis examines the crucial role that writers and artists have played in cultivating historical memory and nurturing political resistance in Algeria, showing how literature offers the unique ability to reckon with colonial violence and to render the experiences of those marginalized by the state.

The contributors to Beyond Man, edited by An Yountae and Eleanor Craig, reckon with the colonial and racial implications of the philosophy of religion’s history by staging a conversation between it and Black, Indigenous, and decolonial studies.

In Around the Day in Eighty Worlds, Martin Savransky draws on the pragmatic pluralism of William James and the ontological turn in anthropology to propose a “pluralistic realism”—an understanding of ontology in which at any given time the world is both one and many, ongoing and unfinished.

In How to Go Mad Without Losing Your Mind, La Marr Jurelle Bruce ponders the presence of “madness” in black literature, music, and performance since the early twentieth century, showing how artist ranging from Kendrick Lamar and Lauryn Hill to Nina Simone and Dave Chappelle activate madness as content, form, aesthetic, strategy, philosophy, and energy in an enduring black radical tradition.

Việt Lê examines contemporary art in Cambodia and Việt Nam in Return Engagements to trace the entwinement of militarization, trauma, diaspora, and modernity in Southeast Asian art.

In Images of Beirut, Hatim El-Hibri explores how the creation and circulation of images has shaped the urban spaces and cultural imaginaries of Beirut, showing how images can be used to consolidate or destabilize regimes of power.

Editors Diana Paton and Matthew J. Smith combine more than one hundred classic and lesser-known texts in The Jamaica Reader to present a panoramic history of the country—from its pre-contact Indigenous origins to the present—and provide an unparalleled look at Jamaica’s history, culture, and politics.

In Colonial Debts, Rocío Zambrana uses the current political-economic moment in Puerto Rico to outline how debt functions as both an apparatus that strengthens neoliberalism and the island’s colonial relation to the United States.

Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández challenges the stereotypes of machismo in Archiving Mexican Masculinities in Diaspora with nuanced portraits of Mexican men and masculinities along and across the US-Mexico border.

The contributors to Words and Worlds, edited by Veena Das and Didier Fassin, examine the state of politics and the political imaginary within contemporary societies by taking up the everyday words such as democracy, revolution, and populism that we use to understand the political present.

A concise, easy-to-understand reference book, the revised and updated second edition of the bestselling All about Your Eyes tells you what you need to know to care for your eyes, various eye diseases and treatments, and what to expect from your eye doctor. The editors, Sharon Fekrat, Tanya S. Glaser, and Henry L. Feng are all physicians at the world-renown Duke Eye Center.

In an indispensable guide for all ethnographers, the editors of Experimenting with Ethnography, Andrea Ballestero and Brit Ross Winthereik, collect twenty-one essays that offer concrete suggestions for thinking about and doing ethnographic research and writing.

The contributors to Sound Alignments, edited by Michael K. Bourdaghs, Paola Iovene, and Kaley Mason, explore the myriad forms of popular music in Asia during the Cold War, showing how it took on new meanings and significance as it traveled across the region and forged and challenged alliances, revolutions, and countercultures.

Shaoling Ma examines late Qing China’s political upheavals and modernizing energies through the problem of the dynamics between new media technologies such as the telegraph the discursive representations of them in The Stone and the Wireless.

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New Books in February

Winter is a great time to curl up with a good book. In February we have notable titles in media studies, critical race studies, and more!

Universal Tonality Jazz critic and historian Cisco Bradley tells the story of the life and music of bassist and composer William Parker in Universal Tonality, which documents fifty years of the monumental figure’s life in free jazz. Be sure to join us for a live online event featuring Bradley, Parker, Anthony Reed, and Senior Executive Editor Ken Wissoker on February 19.

Drawing on interviews with industry workers from MTV programs such as The Real World and Teen Mom, Amanda Ann Klein in Millennials Killed the Video Star examines the historical, cultural, and industrial factors leading to MTV’s shift away from music videos to reality programming in the early 2000s and 2010s.

Lauren Steimer’s Experts in Action examines how Hong Kong-influenced action movie aesthetics and stunt techniques have been taken up, imitated, and reinvented in other locations and production contexts around the globe.

Marina Peterson traces entanglements of environmental noise, atmosphere, sense, and matter that cohere in and through encounters with airport noise at Los Angeles International Airport since the 1960s, in Atmospheric Noise, showing how noise is central to how we know, feel, and think atmospherically.

Point of ReckoningTheodore D. Segal’s Point of Reckoning narrates the fraught and contested fight for racial justice at Duke University—which accepted its first black undergraduates in 1963—to tell both a local and national story about the challenges that historically white colleges and universities throughout the country continue to face. Catch Segal at two online events this month: on February 10, sponsored by the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies, and on February 24, sponsored by the Duke Alumni Association.

Kevin Quashie in Black Aliveness, or a Poetics of Being analyzes texts by of Lucille Clifton, June Jordan, Toni Morrison, Evie Shockley, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others to argue for a black aliveness that is disarticulated from antiblackness and which provides the basis for the imagination and creation of a black world.

Throughout The Powers of Dignity Nick Bromell examines how Frederick Douglass forged a distinctively black political philosophy out of his experiences as an enslaved and later nominally free man in ways that challenge Anglo-Continental traditions of political thought.

Black UtopiasEngaging with the work of Black musicians, writers, and women mystics, Jayna Brown’s Black Utopias takes up the concept of utopia as an occasion to explore new states of being, doing, and imagining in Black culture. You can catch Brown’s first online event this Thursday, February 4.

Samantha A. Noël investigates how Black Caribbean and American artists of the early twentieth century responded to and challenged colonial and other hegemonic regimes through tropicalist representation in Tropical Aesthetics of Black Modernism.

Candace Fujikane draws upon Hawaiian legends about the land and water and their impact upon Native Hawai‘ian struggles in Mapping Abundance for a Planetary Future to argue that Native economies of abundance provide a foundation for collective work against climate change.

A time of YouthA Time of Youth brings together 89 of the more than 2000 photographs William Gedney 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.

In Coed Revolution Chelsea Szendi Schieder examines the campus-based New Left in Japan by exploring the significance of women’s participation in the protest movements of the 1960s.

Ma Vang examines the experiences of Hmong refugees who migrated to the United States following the secret war in Laos (1961–1975) to theorize “History on the Run” as a framework for understanding refugee histories, in particular those of the Hmong.

Empire's MistressVernadette Vicuña Gonzalez follows the life of Filipina vaudeville and film actress Isabel Rosario Cooper to explore the contours of empire as experienced on the scale of personal relationships in Empire’s Mistress, Starring Isabel Rosario Cooper, taking us much deeper into her life story than merely her role as the mistress of General Douglas MacArthur.

Jonathan Beller traces the history of the commodification of information and the financialization of everyday life in The World Computer, showing how contemporary capitalism is based in algorithms and the quantification of value that intensify social inequality.

In The Charismatic Gymnasium, Maria José A. de Abreu examines the conservative Charismatic Catholic movement in contemporary urban Brazil to rethink the relationship between theology, the body, and neoliberal governance, showing how it works to produce subjects who are complicit with Brazilian neoliberalism.

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New Books in January

If you made a New Year’s resolution to read more, this month we have some great new books to help achieve your goals. Happy New Year!

The future of FalloutJoseph Masco examines the psychosocial, material, and affective consequences of the advent of nuclear weapons, the Cold War security state, climate change on contemporary US democratic practices and public imaginaries in The Future of Fallout, and Other Episodes in Radioactive World-Making.

Andrew Bickford analyzes the US military’s attempts to design performance enhancement technologies and create pharmacological “supersoldiers” capable of becoming ever more lethal while withstanding various forms of extreme trauma in Chemical Heroes.

Drawing on ethnographic research in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, Christopher Harker in Spacing Debt examines how Israel’s use of debt to keep Palestinians economically unstable is a form of slow colonial violence embedded into the everyday lives of citizens.

Whites are the Enemies of Heaven With The Whites are the Enemies of Heaven, Mark W. Driscoll examines Western imperialism in East Asia throughout the nineteenth century and the devastating effects of what he calls climate caucasianism—the West’s racialized pursuit of capital at the expense of people of color, women, and the environment.

In Dear Science and Other Stories Katherine McKittrick presents a creative and rigorous study of black and anticolonial methodologies, exploring how narratives of imprecision and relationality interrupt knowledge systems that seek to observe, index, know, and discipline blackness.

Christopher Freeburg’s Counterlife challenges the imperative to study black social life and slavery and its aftereffects through the lenses of freedom, agency, and domination and instead examines how enslaved Africans created meaning through spirituality, thought, and artistic creativity separate and alongside concerns about freedom.

emancipations daughtersRiché Richardson in Emancipation’s Daughters examines how five iconic black women—Mary McLeod Bethune, Rosa Parks, Condoleezza Rice, Michelle Obama, and Beyoncé—defy racial stereotypes and construct new national narratives of black womanhood in the United States.

Lingzhen Wang examines the work of Chinese women filmmakers of the Mao and post-Mao eras in Revisiting Women’s Cinema to theorize socialist and postsocialist feminism, mainstream culture, and women’s cinema in modern China.

Kaiama L. Glover examines Francophone and Anglophone Caribbean literature whose female protagonists enact practices of freedom that privilege the self, challenge the prioritization of the community over the individual, and refuse masculinist discourses of postcolonial nation building in A Regarded Self.

The Small Book of Hip ChecksErica Rand uses multiple meanings of hip check—an athlete using their hip to throw an opponent off balance and the inspection of racialized gender—to consider the workings of queer gender, race, and writing in the The Small Book of Hip Checks.

Drawing from ethnographic work with queer activist groups in contemporary Turkey, Evren Savcı’s Queer in Translation explores how Western LGBT politics are translated and reworked there in ways that generate new spaces for resistance and solidarity.

Anthony Reed takes the recorded collaborations between African American poets and musicians such as Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez, Cecil Taylor, and Charles Mingus to trace the overlaps between experimental music and poetry and the ways in which intellectuals, poets, and musicians define black sound as a radical aesthetic practice in Soundworks.

The Bruce B. Lawrence Reader assembles over two dozen selections of writing by leading scholar of Islam Bruce B. Lawrence which range from analyses of premodern and modern Islamic discourses, practices, and institutions to methodological and theoretical reflections on the study of religion.

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New Books in October

As the days cool and leaves turn so should your new book pages! This month our new book titles will go great with your favorite hot drink.

sentient fleshExamining black performance practices that critique Western humanism, R. A. Judy offers an extended meditation on questions of blackness, the human, epistemology, and the historical ways in which the black being is understood in Sentient Flesh.

In Sensory Experiments, Erica Fretwell examines how psychophysics—a nineteenth-century scientific movement originating in Germany dedicated to the empirical study of sensory experience—became central to the process of creating human difference along the lines of race, gender, and ability in nineteenth-century America.

Brigitte Fielder presents an alternative theory of how race is constructed in Relative Races with readings of nineteenth-century personal narratives, novels, plays, stories, poems, and images to illustrate how interracial kinship follows non-heteronormative, non-biological, and non-patrilineal models of inheritance in nineteenth-century literary culture.

The Sense of Brown, which he was completing at the time of his death, is José Esteban Muñoz’s treatise on brownness and being as well as his most direct address to queer Latinx studies. Joshua Chambers-Letson and Tavia Nyong′o have edited the book and written an introduction.The Sense of Brown

Lyle Fearnley situates the production of ecological facts about the likely epicenter of viral pandemics inside the shifting cultural landscapes of agrarian change and the geopolitics of global health in the timely new book Virulent Zones.

Amalia Leguizamón reveals how the Argentine state, agribusiness, and their allies in the media and sciences deploy narratives of economic redistribution, scientific expertise, and national identity as a way to gain the public’s consent to grow genetically modified soybeans despite the massive environmental and social costs in Seeds of Power.

Drawing on ethnographic research with policy makers, politicians, activists, scholars, and the public in Manchester, England, Hannah Knox in Thinking Like a Climate confronts the challenges climate change poses to knowledge production and modern politics.

Wild Things with border In Wild Things Jack Halberstam offers an alternative history of sexuality by tracing the ways in which the wild—a space located beyond normative borders of sexuality—offers sources of opposition to knowing and being that transgress Euro-American notions of the modern subject.

Saiba Varma in The Occupied Clinic, explores spaces of military and humanitarian care in Indian-controlled Kashmir—the world’s most militarized place—to examine the psychic, ontological, and political entanglements between medicine and violence.

With Cowards Don′t Make History, Joanne Rappaport examines the work of a group of Colombian social scientists led by Orlando Fals Borda, who in the 1970s developed a model of “participatory action research” in which they embedded themselves into local communities to use their research in the service of social and political organizing.

Vanessa Freije explores the causes and consequences of political scandals in Mexico from the 1960s through the 1980s in Citizens of Scandal, showing how Mexico City reporters began to denounce government corruption during this period in ways that defined the Mexican public sphere in the late twentieth century .

In Building Socialism, Christina Schwenkel analyzes the collaboration between East German and Vietnamese architects and urban planners as they attempted to transform the bombed-out industrial city of Vinh into a model socialist city.

Political theorist and anticapitalist activist Sabu Kohso uses the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster to illuminate the relationship between nuclear power, capitalism, and the nation-state in Radiation and Revolution, showing how nuclear power has become the organizing principle of the global order.

blackdiamondqueens In Black Diamond Queens Maureen Mahon documents the major contributions African American women vocalists such as Big Mama Thornton, Betty Davis, Tina Turner, and Merry Clayton have made to rock and roll throughout its history.

Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan in The Globally Familiar examines how the young men of Delhi’s hip hop scene construct themselves on- and off-line and how digital platforms offer these young men the means to reimagine themselves and their city through hip hop.

In essays addressing topics ranging from cinema, feminism, and art to hip hop, urban slums, and digital technology, Sujatha Fernandes in The Cuban Hustle explores the multitudinous ways ordinary Cubans have sought to hustle, survive, and create expressive cultures in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse.

In Genetic Afterlives, Noah Tamarkin illustrates how Lemba people in South Africa give their own meanings to the results of DNA tests that substantiated their ancestral connections to Jews and employ them to manage competing claims of Jewish ethnic and religious identity, African indigeneity, and South African citizenship.

Shane Denson examines the ways in which computer-generated digital images displace and transform the traditional spatial and temporal relationships that viewers had with conventional analog forms of cinema in Discorrelated Images.

Media Primitivism by Delinda Collier finds alternative concepts of mediation in African art by closely engaging with electricity-based works since 1944.

writing in spaceWriting in Space, 1973-2019 gathers the writings of conceptual artist Lorraine O’Grady as edited by Aruna D’Souza, including artist statements, scripts, magazine articles, critical essays on art and culture, and interviews.

Acknowledging the difficulty for artists in the twenty-first century to effectively critique systems of power, in The Play in the System Anna Watkins Fisher theorizes parasitism—a form of resistance in which artists comply with dominant structures as a tool for practicing resistance from within.

Filled with advice from over fifty contributors, this completely revised and expanded edition of our popular book The Academic’s Handbook guides academics at every career stage, whether they are first entering the job market or negotiating post-tenure challenges of accepting leadership and administrative roles. The volume is edited by Lori A. Flores and Jocelyn H. Olcott.

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Virtual Events in August

Please join our authors for these online events this August.

978-1-4780-0954-2Katina L. Rogers is participating in a three-part reading group about her book Putting the Humanities PhD to work. This discussion group will be structured as series of three videochats focusing on two to three chapters per week, beginning tomorrow, August 5, and continuing on August 12 and 19. Each week will be moderated by a guest host, and Rogers will participate in discussions and field questions. There’s no obligation to attend every session. If your pre-ordered copy of the book hasn’t arrived yet, you can send your receipt to Katina Rogers by email and she’ll get an electronic copy to you while you wait for the print. Preregister for the event to get the links.

A number of our authors are presenting at the virtual conference of the American Sociological Association. Catch Ruha Benjamin, editor of Captivating Technology; Michael Burawoy, author of Symbolic Violence; Trevor Hoppe, co-editor of The War on Sex; and Sara Ahmed, author of, most recently, What’s the Use? on various panels. The conference is free to ASA members and only $25 for non-members. Come back to the blog this Friday for a post on our recent sociology scholarship.

978-1-4780-0840-8Later this week we will be posting an online conversation between Senior Executive Editor Ken Wissoker and Alex Blanchette, author of Porkopolis. Check our YouTube page this Friday for the link. We’ll also be posting it to our Twitter and Facebook pages.

On August 7, David Palumbo-Liu, author of The Deliverance of Others; Lauren Berlant, editor, most recently, of Reading Sedgwick; and Mackenzie Wark, who has a book coming in 2021, are participating in a conversation entitled “Wildcats, Boycotts, and Academic Capital.” They will discuss the University of California Boycott movement supporting striking graduate students. RSVP to get the link.

On August 11, Ronak Kapadia, author of Insurgent Aesthetics, will give a virtual public seminar entitled “On the Skin: Drone Warfare, Collateral Damage, and the Human Terrain.”  

On August 18, Emily J. Lordi will discuss her new book The Meaning of Soul as part of the Popular Music Books in Progress series. Email Eric Weisbard (contact info on the series page) to get the Zoom link.

We hope you get a chance to check some of these out.

Virtual Events in July

978-1-4780-0813-2We’re so sad that our authors still aren’t able to do live events at bookstores and on campuses, but are glad that some of them are choosing to do virtual events to showcase their books instead. Here are a few online events you can attend this month.

The Popular Music Books in Process Series is a collaboration between the Journal of Popular Music Studies, IASPM-US, and the Pop Conference, meant to offer writers and scholars with books that have recently been published, or books in progress, on all kinds of popular music a chance to connect with a deeply interested community of readers. Several of our authors are participating in the series. On July 14, catch Xavier Livermon, author of Kwaito Bodies. On July 28, David Grubbs will discuss his new book The Voice in the Headphones. Looking ahead to fall, be sure to tune in for talks with Emily Lordi, author of The Meaning of Soul, and Maureen Mahon, author of Black Diamond Queens.

978-1-4780-0824-8_prOn July 8, Imani Perry, author of Vexy Thing, will interview Ashon Crawley, author of The Lonely Letters. They plan to talk about loneliness, blackness, blackqueerness, joy, love, and friendship.

On July 16, the Albuquerque Museum will host an online launch for Margaret Randall’s memoir, I Never Left Home. Randall will read from the book and the museum will have copies available for sale on their website.

July 20, join Louise Amoore and Nick Seaver as they discuss Amoore’s new book Cloud Ethics in an event sponsored by the University of Warwick.

Also on July 20, Intellectual Publics hosts Ashon Crawley, author of The Lonely Letters; Shana Redmond, author of Everything Man; and Nicole Fleetwood, in conversation with Jasmine Johnson.

On July 28, several of our authors gather online for a conversation entitled Black Diaspora Cultural Studies Now. Tune in to hear Samantha Pinto, author of Infamous Bodies; Naminata Diabate, author of Naked Agency; and Xavier Livermon, author of Kwaito Bodies, along with Yomaira C. Figueroa-Vásquez, Rebecca Wanzo and moderator Jennifer Nash, author of Black Feminism Reimagined.

Follow us on Twitter to learn about events as they are added to the calendar.

Preview our Fall 2020 Catalog

F20-catalog-coverWe’re excited to unveil our Fall 2020 catalog. Check out some highlights from the season below and then download a copy for a closer read. These titles will be published between July 2020 and January 2021.

On the cover we’re featuring an image from artist Lorraine O’Grady’s Writing in Space, 1973–2019, which gathers her statements, scripts, and previously unpublished notes charting the development of her performance work and conceptual photography. The book is edited by Aruna D’Souza.

We lead off with Diary of a Detour by Lesley Stern, a memoir of living with cancer and the unexpected detours illness can produce. Poet Eileen Myles calls it “the most pleasurable cancer book imaginable.” It’s illustrated with delightful drawings of Stern’s chickens, who brought solace during her journey.

The Sense of BrownThe next pages feature a couple of queer studies superstars: Jack Halberstam and the late José Esteban Muñoz. Muñoz was working on The Sense of Brown when he died in 2013. Scholars Joshua Chambers-Letson and Tavia Nyong′o have edited his unfinished manuscript and added an introduction. The book is a treatise on brownness and being as well as Muñoz’s most direct address to queer Latinx studies. Jack Halberstam’s new book Wild Things offers an alternative history of sexuality by tracing the ways in which wildness has been associated with queerness and queer bodies throughout the twentieth century. It’s sure to please fans of his bestselling previous books Female Masculinity and The Queer Art of Failure. LGBTQ studies scholars will also want to check out Information Activism: A Queer History of Lesbian Media Technologies by Cait McKinney and Sexual Hegemony, in which Christopher Chitty traces the 500-year history of capitalist sexual relations by excavating the class dynamics of the bourgeoisie’s attempts to regulate homosexuality. And Left of Queer, an issue of Social Text edited by David L. Eng and Jasbir K. Puar, offers a detailed examination of queerness and its nearly three-decade academic and political mainstreaming and institutionalization.

Two books on the fall list will be helpful to recent PhDs as they navigate the job market and the complicated world of academe. Putting the Humanities PhD to Work by Katina L. Rogers grounds practical career advice in a nuanced consideration of the current landscape of the academic workforce. And we announce a fourth edition of The Academic’s Handbook. This edition of the popular guide is edited by Lori A. Flores and Jocelyn H. Olcott and is completely revised and expanded. Over fifty contributors from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds offer practical advice for academics at every career stage, whether they are first entering the job market or negotiating post-tenure challenges of accepting leadership and administrative roles.

How to Go Mad without Losing Your MindBlack studies continues to be a strong part of our list. This winter we publish a new book by Katherine McKittrick. In Dear Science and Other Stories she presents a creative and rigorous study of black and anticolonial methodologies, exploring how narratives of imprecision and relationality interrupt knowledge systems that seek to observe, index, know, and discipline blackness. Dear Science is the first book in the new Errantries series, edited by McKittrick, Simone Browne, and Deborah Cowen. In Sentient Flesh R. A. Judy offers an extended meditation on questions of blackness, the human, epistemology, and the historical ways in which the black being is understood. And we’re also looking forward to La Marr Jurelle Bruce’s How to Go Mad without Losing Your Mind, an urgent provocation and poignant meditation on madness in black radical art.

Latinx ArtFall brings some great new art and art history titles, including Latinx Art by Arlene Dávila, who draws on numerous interviews with artists, dealers, and curators to provide an inside and critical look of the global contemporary art market. Looking at Latinx aesthetics from a popular culture perspective, Jillian Hernandez’s Aesthetics of Excess analyzes the personal clothing, makeup, and hairstyles of working-class Black and Latina girl to show how cultural discourses of aesthetic value racialize the bodies of women and girls of color. And in ¡Presente!, Diana Taylor offers the theory of presente as a model of standing by and with victims of structural and endemic violence by being physically and politically present in situations where it seems that nothing can be done. In Liquor Store Theater, Maya Stovall uses her conceptual art project—in which she danced near her Detroit neighborhood’s liquor stores as a way to start conversations with her neighbors—as a point of departure for understanding everyday life in Detroit and the possibilities for ethnographic research, art, and knowledge creation. In Beyond the World’s End, T. J. Demos explores a range of artistic, activist, and cultural practices that provide compelling and radical propositions for building a just, decolonial, and environmentally sustainable future. And in Keith Haring’s Line, Ricardo Montez traces the drawn and painted line that was at the center of Keith Haring’s artistic practice, engaging with Haring’s messy relationships to race-making and racial imaginaries.

The Meaning of SoulIf you love music books, you’re in luck this fall. We offer Black Diamond Queens by Maureen Mahon, which documents the major contributions African American women vocalists such as Big Mama Thornton, Betty Davis, Tina Turner, and Merry Clayton have made to rock and roll throughout its history. And in The Meaning of Soul, Emily J. Lordi examines the work of Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Solange Knowles, Flying Lotus, and others in order to propose a new understanding of soul, showing how it came to signify a belief in black resilience enacted through musical practices.

We’re featuring a great group of Latin American studies titles this fall. In The Cuban Hustle, Sujatha Fernandes explores the many ways artists, activists, and ordinary Cubans have sought to hustle, survive, and express themselves in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse. We also welcome back returning authors Brett Gustafson with Bolivia in the Age of Gas and Joanne Rappaport with Cowards Don’t Make History.

For a Pragmatics of the UselessWe welcome back a number of other returning authors as well. In History 4° Celsius Ian Baucom continues his inquiries into the place of the Black Atlantic in the making of the modern and postmodern world. Catherine Besteman offers a sweeping theorization of the ways in which countries from the global North are reproducing South Africa’s apartheid system on a worldwide scale in her new book Militarized Global Apartheid. Erin Manning’s latest book For a Pragmatics of the Useless explores the links between neurotypicality, whiteness, and black life. Joseph Masco returns with The Future of Fallout, and Other Episodes in Radioactive World-Making, which examines the psychosocial, material, and affective consequences of the advent of nuclear weapons, the Cold War security state, climate change on contemporary US democratic practices and public imaginaries. And in The Wombs of Women, Françoise Vergès traces the long history of colonial state intervention in black women’s wombs during the slave trade and postslavery imperialism as well as in current birth control politics.

Fall also brings essential new journal issues in political science and political history. In “Fascism and Anti-Fascism since 1945,” an issue of Radical History Review, contributors show how fascist ideology continues to circulate and be opposed transnationally despite its supposed death at the end of World War II. And “The ACA at 10,” a two-part issue of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, marks the tenth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act with essays from prominent analysts of US health policy and politics that explore critical issues and themes in the ACA’s evolution.

There’s so much more! We invite you to download the entire catalog and check out all the great books and journals inside. And be sure to sign up for our email alerts so you’ll know when titles you’re interested in are available.