Books At-a-Glance

April 26, 2012 | Salute to Scholars, The University

Here is a collection of new books written by CUNY authors:

The Dolphin in the Mirror: Exploring Dolphin Minds and Saving Dolphin Lives
Hunter College professor of psychology and Graduate Center professor of biopsychology and behavioral neuroscience Diana Reiss
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

This is a memoir by the world’s leading dolphin and whale expert, revealing the extraordinary richness of these animals’ intelligence and exposing the terrible mistreatment of the smartest creatures in the sea. Reiss is a leading rescuer who helped inspire and served as an adviser for the documentary “The Cove,” and who continues to campaign against the annual Japanese slaughters. Readers will be astonished at dolphins’ sonar capabilities; at their sophisticated, lifelong playfulness; at their emotional intelligence; and at their ability to bond with other species, including humans and even dogs.

Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere
Graduate Center professor of comparative literature André Aciman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Celebrated as one of the most poignant stylists of his generation, Aciman has written a luminous series of linked essays about time, place, identity and art that show him at his finest. From beautiful and moving pieces about the memory evoked by the scent of lavender to meditations on cities like Barcelona, Rome, Paris and New York, to his sheer ability to unearth life secrets from an ordinary street corner, Alibis reminds the reader that Aciman is a master of the personal essay.

Tectonic Shifts: Haiti Since the Earthquake
Edited by York College assistant professor of African American studies and anthropology Mark Schuller, and editor at the North American Congress on Latin America Pablo Morales
Kumarian Press

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti’s capital on Jan. 12, 2010, will be remembered as one of the world’s deadliest disasters. It exposed centuries of underdevelopment, misguided economic policies and foreign aid interventions that have contributed to rampant inequality and social exclusion in Haiti. Tectonic Shifts offers a diverse on-the-ground set of perspectives about Haiti’s cataclysmic earthquake and the aftermath that left more than 1.5 million individuals homeless. It addresses a range of contemporary realities, foreign impositions and political changes that occurred during the relief and reconstruction periods.

The Lives of Margaret Fuller: A Biography
John Jay College associate professor of English John Matteson
W. W. Norton & Company

A brilliant writer and a fiery social critic, Margaret Fuller (1810–1850) was perhaps the most famous American woman of her generation. She became the leading female figure in the transcendentalist movement, wrote a celebrated column of literary and social commentary for Horace Greeley’s newspaper, and served as the first foreign correspondent for an American newspaper. While living in Europe, she fell in love with an Italian nobleman and became pregnant out of wedlock. In 1848 she joined the fight for Italian independence and, the following year, reported on the struggle while nursing the wounded within range of enemy cannons. Amid all these strivings and achievements, she authored the first great work of American feminism: Woman in the Nineteenth Century. Despite her brilliance, however, Fuller suffered from selfdoubt and was plagued by ill health.

Novel Craft: Victorian Domestic Handicraft & Nineteenth-Century Fiction
Queens College and Graduate Center professor of English Taila Schaffer
Oxford University Press

Domestic handicraft was an extraordinarily popular leisure activity in Victorian Britain, especially among middle-class women. Craftswomen pasted shells onto boxes, stitched fish scales onto silk, scorched patterns into wood, cast flower petals out of wax and made needlework portraits of the royal spaniels. Providing a much-needed history of this understudied phenomenon, Schaffer demonstrates the importance of domestic handicraft in Victorian literature and culture. Featuring illustrations from two centuries of domestic handicraft, Schaffer deftly combines cultural history and literary analysis to create a revealing portrait of a neglected part of 19th Century life and highlights its continuing relevance in today’s world of Martha Stewart, women’s magazine crafts and a rapidly expanding alt-craft culture.

What They Saved: Pieces of a Jewish Past
Graduate Center Distinguished Professor of English and comparative literature Nancy K. Miller
University of Nebraska Press

After her father’s death, Miller discovered a minuscule family archive: a handful of photographs, an unexplained land deed, a postcard from Argentina, unidentified locks of hair. These items had been passed down again and again, but what did they mean? Miller follows their traces from one distant relative to another, across the country, and across an ocean. Her story, unlike the many family memoirs focused on the Holocaust, takes readers back earlier in history to the world of pogroms and mass emigrations at the turn of the 20th century. As a third-generation descendant of Eastern European Jews, Miller learns that the hidden lives of her ancestors reveal as much about the present as they do about the past.

Sexuality in Europe: A Twentieth-Century History
Graduate Center professor of history and Daniel Rose Faculty Scholar Dagmar Herzog
Cambridge University Press

The book brings a fascinating and accessible new account of the tumultuous history of sexuality in Europe from the waning of Victorianism to the collapse of Communism and the rise of European Islam. Although the 20th century is often called “the century of sex” and seen as an era of increasing liberalization, Herzog instead emphasizes the complexities and contradictions in sexual desires and behaviors, the ambivalences surrounding sexual freedom, and the difficulties encountered in securing sexual rights. The book investigates the shifting fortunes of marriage and prostitution, contraception and abortion, queer and straight existence, sexual violence in war and peace, and the promotion of sexual satisfaction in fascist and democratic societies.