book cover of After Newspeak: Language Culture and Politics in Russia from Gorbachev to Putin

After Newspeak: Language Culture and Politics in Russia from Gorbachev to Putin

Michael S. Gorham
Michael S. Gorham, Associate Professor of Russian Studies in Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Available from Cornell University Press.

In After Newspeak, Michael S. Gorham presents a cultural history of the politics of the Russian language from Gorbachev and glasnost to Putin and the emergence of new generations of Web technologies. Gorham begins from the premise that periods of rapid and radical change both shape and are shaped by language. He documents the role and fate of the Russian language in the
collapse of the USSR and the decades of reform and national reconstruction that have followed. Gorham demonstrates the inextricable linkage of language and politics in everything from dictionaries of profanity to the flood of publications on linguistic self-help, the speech patterns of the country’s leaders, the blogs of its bureaucrats, and the official programs promoting the use of Russian in the so-called “near abroad.”

Gorham explains why glasnost figured as such a critical rhetorical battleground in the political strife that led to the Soviet Union’s collapse and shows why Russians came to deride the newfound freedom of speech of the 1990s as little more than the right to swear in public. He assesses the impact of Medvedev’s role as Blogger-in-Chief and the role Putin’s vulgar speech practices played in the restoration of national pride. And he investigates whether Internet communication and new media technologies have helped to consolidate a more vibrant democracy and civil society or if they serve as an additional resource for the political technologies manipulated by the Kremlin.

“This fascinating book offers a sweeping analysis of Russia’s changing ‘language culture’ in the past several decades, from the politics of language use and debates over language norms to the role Russian language plays in national identity, political culture and international relations. But this is more than a book about language culture. From the stagnant discourse of post-Stalin’s Soviet Union to the exciting linguistic openness of Gorbachev’s perestroika, from the violent linguistic experimentation of the first post-Soviet decade to the authoritative linguistic grip and chaotic online utopia of Putin’s years, this book provides an extraordinary perspective on Russia’s cultural and political history.”


book cover of Content Burns

Content Burns

Stephanie A. Smith
Stephanie A. Smith, Professor of English. Pre-order available from Amazon.

CONTENT BURNS chronicles the parallel stories of two women who bear the same Puritan name, in the same family, who are separated by three centuries and who are unknown to each other and yet both women must learn how to survive historical traumas that changed the course of American history: the first Content Burns, born a Pequot Indian, was originally named Ásawanuw (Corn-silk), survives both a small-pox epidemic and the Pequot Massacre as a child. Given in servitude to the colonial Burns family, she converts upon her marriage into that family and takes the name Content as a sign of her acceptance of her fate. However, later in life, finds she and her children cannot escape the after-effects of the massacre of her family and her tribe in 1637 at Mystic, Connecticut, a massacre that significantly altered relations between the English, Dutch and tribal peoples and contributed to not only the bloody King Philip’s (Metacomet) War but also to the much later witch hunts that rocked the New England coast; and the contemporary Content Abigail Burns, nicknamed Cabbi, who survives, purely by accident, the loss of the Twin Towers on 9/11, having swapped her shift in the restaurant Wild Blue with a co-worker. Damaged by the fluke of her survival, Cabbi is still healing from that trauma as she nurses her dying mother, searching for a new way forward, when her second-cousin, Lem Dance (the protagonist of BABY ROCKET) steps in with a marvelous, though difficult, proposition.

book cover of That Religion in Which All Men Agree: Freemasonry in American Culture

That Religion in Which All Men Agree: Freemasonry in American Culture

David G. Hackett
David G. Hackett, Associate Professor of Religion. Available from Amazon.

This powerful study weaves the story of Freemasonry into the narrative of American religious history. Freighted with the mythical legacies of stonemasons’ guilds and the Newtonian revolution, English Freemasonry arrived in colonial America with a vast array of cultural baggage, which was drawn on, added to, and transformed during its sojourn through American culture. David G. Hackett argues that from the 1730s through the early twentieth century the religious worlds of an evolving American social order broadly appropriated the beliefs and initiatory practices of this all-male society. For much of American history, Freemasonry was both counter and complement to Protestant churches, as well as a forum for collective action among racial and ethnic groups outside the European American Protestant mainstream. Moreover, the cultural template of Freemasonry gave shape and content to the American “public sphere.” By including a group not usually seen as a carrier of religious beliefs and rituals, Hackett expands and complicates the terrain of American religious history by showing how Freemasonry has contributed to a broader understanding of the multiple influences that have shaped religion in American culture.

book cover of Tan Men/Pale Women: Color and Gender in Archaic Greece and Egypt, a Comparative Approach

Tan Men/Pale Women: Color and Gender in Archaic Greece and Egypt, a Comparative Approach

Mary Ann Eaverly
Mary Ann Eaverly, Associate Professor of Classics. Available from University of Michigan Press.

One of the most obvious stylistic features of Athenian black-figure vase painting is the use of color to differentiate women from men. By comparing ancient art in Egypt and Greece, Tan Man/Pale Women uncovers the complex history behind the use of color to distinguish between genders, without focusing on race. Author Mary Ann Eaverly considers the significance of this overlooked aspect of ancient art as an indicator of underlying societal ideals about the role and status of women. Such a commonplace method of gender differentiation proved to be a complex and multivalent method for expressing ideas about the relationship between men and women, a method flexible enough to encompass differing worldviews of Pharaonic Egypt and Archaic Greece. Does the standard indoor/outdoor explanation-women are light because they stay indoors-hold true everywhere, or even, in fact, in Greece? How “natural” is color-based gender differentiation, and, more critically, what relationship does color-based gender differentiation have to views about women and the construction of gender identity in the ancient societies that use it?

The depiction of dark men and light women can, as in Egypt, symbolize reconcilable opposites and, as in Greece, seemingly irreconcilable opposites where women are regarded as a distinct species from men. Eaverly challenges traditional ideas about color and gender in ancient Greek painting, reveals an important strategy used by Egyptian artists to support pharaonic ideology and the role of women as complementary opposites to men, and demonstrates that rather than representing an actual difference, skin color marks a society’s ideological view of the varied roles of male and female.

book cover of The Other in Translation: A Case for Comparative Translation Studies

“The Other” in Translation: A Case for Comparative Translation Studies

Alexander Burak

Alexander Burak, Assistant Professor of Russian. Available from Amazon.
In The Other in Translation: A Case for Comparative Translation Studies, Alexander Burak brings theorists and practitioners together and discusses ways of resolving specific translation problems on the basis of middle-range theories (Merton s term) relating to word and sentence semantics and text pragmatics. The middle-range solutions are considered from the perspectives of neutralization, domestication (naturalization), contamination, foreignization, and stylization as modes of negotiating the other in translation. The author uses six concrete case studies to consider some accursed problems ( the untranslatable ) of Russian English translation. Burak advocates comparative translation discourse analysis (CTDA) as a way of capturing and negotiating the fluid nature of the textual and extra-textual other. Besides providing a realistic, usable methodology for comparative translation discourse analysis, Burak also shows how different translators often initiate significant cultural change. The comparative translation studies contained in the book provide us with additional tools to monitor and analyze cultural change. The book is meant primarily for Russian-to-English and English-to-Russian translators and students of translation with some knowledge of Russian, but it will also be useful to advanced Russian language learners and Russian heritage speakers.


book cover of Biogeochemical Dynamics at Major River-Coastal Interfaces: Linkages with Global Change

Biogeochemical Dynamics at Major River-Coastal Interfaces: Linkages with Global Change

Thomas S. Bianchi
Thomas S. Bianchi, Professor of Geology and Jon L. and Beverly A. Thompson Endowed Chair of Geological Sciences. Available from Barnes & Noble.

This volume provides a state-of-the-art summary of biogeochemical dynamics at major river-coastal interfaces for advanced students and researchers. River systems play an important role (via the carbon cycle) in the natural self-regulation of Earth’s surface conditions by serving as a major sink for anthropogenic CO2.

Approximately 90 percent of global carbon burial occurs in ocean margins, with the majority of this thought to be buried in large delta-front estuaries (LDEs). This book provides information on how humans have altered carbon cycling, sediment dynamics, CO2 budgets, wetland dynamics, and nutrients and trace element cycling at the land-margin interface. Many of the globally important LDEs are discussed across a range of latitudes, elevation and climate in the drainage basin, coastal oceanographic setting, and nature and degree of human alteration. It is this breadth of examination that provides the reader with a comprehensive understanding of the overarching controls on major river biogeochemistry.

book cover of Visions of Power in Cuba

Visions of Power in Cuba
Revolution, Redemption, and Resistance, 1959-1971

Lillian Guerra
Lillian Guerra, Associate Professor of History. Available from The University of North Carolina Press.

In the tumultuous first decade of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro and other leaders saturated the media with altruistic images of themselves in a campaign to win the hearts of Cuba’s six million citizens. In Visions of Power in Cuba, Lillian Guerra argues that these visual representations explained rapidly occurring events and encouraged radical change and mutual self-sacrifice.

Mass rallies and labor mobilizations of unprecedented scale produced tangible evidence of what Fidel Castro called “unanimous support” for a revolution whose “moral power” defied U.S. control. Yet participation in state-orchestrated spectacles quickly became a requirement for political inclusion in a new Cuba that policed most forms of dissent. Devoted revolutionaries who resisted disastrous economic policies, exposed post-1959 racism, and challenged gender norms set by Cuba’s one-party state increasingly found themselves marginalized, silenced, or jailed. Using previously unexplored sources, Guerra focuses on the lived experiences of citizens, including peasants, intellectuals, former prostitutes, black activists, and filmmakers, as they struggled to author their own scripts of revolution by resisting repression, defying state-imposed boundaries, and working for anti-imperial redemption in a truly free Cuba.

Lillian Guerra is associate professor of Cuban and Caribbean history at the University of Florida and author of The Myth of José Martí: Conflicting Nationalisms in Early Twentieth-Century Cuba and Popular Expression and National Identity in Puerto Rico.

book cover of Visions of Power in Cuba

Baby Rocket

Stephanie A. Smith
Stephanie A. Smith, Professor of English. Available from Thames River Press.
Online article about new book trilogy.

“Baby Rocket” is the name given to a child who, in 1966, is found abandoned in a rocket-ride on Cape Canaveral. Traumatized, she could not speak when the police found her, a few yards from her dead mother. So first responders called her “Baby Rocket.” As an adult, this child (Clementine “Lem” Dance) has no memory of this event. She discovers her past when her adoptive father, James Walter Dance, Jr. has a fatal heart attack. Lem, a women’s historian who is writing a book about the Mercury 9, while cleaning out her father’s apartment finds files that her father had been collecting in order to tell her the truth. Without him, she must piece together her story—why was she abandoned? What happened to her parents? How did her mother die? Who is her biological father? Doing so will take her from California back to the Tri-State area, where she now lives; to Florida, where she will find her mother’s roots, and her mother’s life-story. Finally she goes out to Martha’s Vineyard, where she will come to terms with what she can recall, and what she has uncovered about the wrenching facts of her early years.

Stephanie A. Smith is the author of Warpaint (Thames River Press, 2012), Household Words (Minnesota, 2006) Conceived By Liberty (Cornell 1995), Other Nature (MacMillan 1995) Snow-Eyes and The-Boy-Who-Was-Thrown-Away (Atheneum 1985/87).