Books At-a-Glance

December 11, 2013 | Salute to Scholars, The University

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

bookHarvard-SquareHarvard Square
Graduate Center Distinguished Professor of comparative literature André Aciman
W.W. Norton

This novel is a tale of the wages of assimilation — a moving story of an immigrant’s remembered youth and the nearly forgotten costs and sacrifices of becoming an American. An Egyptian Jew attending graduate school at Harvard in 1977 meets a brash, charismatic Arab cab driver nicknamed Kalashnikov—Kalaj for short—for his machine-gun vitriol. The student finds it hard to resist his new friend’s magnetism, and before long he begins to neglect his studies and live a double life: one in the rarified world of Harvard, the other as an exile with Kalaj, carousing on the streets of Cambridge. As final exams loom and Kalaj has his license revoked and is threatened with deportation, the student faces the decision of his life: whether to cling to his dream of New World assimilation or risk it all to defend his Old World friend.

bookOneOut of Many, One: Obama and the Third American Political Tradition
Graduate Center professor of political science Ruth O’Brien
University of Chicago Press

Feared by conservatives and embraced by liberals when he entered the White House, Barack Obama has since been battered by criticism from both sides. In Out of Many, One:, O’Brien explains why. We are accustomed to seeing politicians supporting either a minimalist state characterized by unfettered capitalism and individual rights or a relatively strong welfare state and regulatory capitalism. Obama, O’Brien argues, represents the values of a lesser-known third tradition in American political thought that defies the usual left-right categorization. This book sheds critical light on both the political and philosophical underpinnings of his presidency and a fundamental shift in American political thought.

bookNYandLANew York and Los Angeles: The Uncertain Future
Edited by Queens College associate professor of sociology and UCLA professor of sociology David Halle and Queens College professor of sociology Andrew Beveridge
Oxford University Press

This book provides in-depth comparative studies of the two largest cities and metropolitan areas in the United States. Chapters of the book compare politics, economic prospects and the financial crisis and a host of social issues, including reform movements in education, immigration, racial and economic segregation and environmental issues. This comparative framework reveals that old paradigms of urban “decline” or “resurgence” are inadequate for grasping new complexities. Each city is responding in similar and different ways to the challenges created by the events that defined the last decade. These regions act as harbingers for other U. S. cities, the entire nation and cities worldwide.

bookshot_koestenbaum_1980My 1980s and Other Essays
Graduate Center Distinguished Professor of English Wayne Koestenbaum
FSG Originals

Koestenbaum’s essay collection opens with a series of manifestos—or rather, a series of impassioned disclosures, intellectual and personal—and then proceeds to wrestle with a series of major cultural figures, the author’s own lodestars and lodestones: literary (John Ashbery, Roberto Bolaño, James Schuyler), artistic (Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol), and simply iconic (Brigitte Bardot, Cary Grant, Lana Turner). It amounts to a kind of intellectual autobiography that culminates in a string of passionate calls to creativity; arguments in favor of detail, nuance and attention; and a defense of pleasure, hunger and desire in culture and experience.

BookDressingDressing Constitutionally: Hierarchy, Sexuality, and Democracy from Our Hairstyles to Our Shoes
CUNY School of Law Distinguished Professor Ruthann Robson
Cambridge University Press

The intertwining of our clothes and our Constitution raises fundamental questions of hierarchy, sexuality, and democracy. From our hairstyles to our shoes, constitutional considerations both constrain and confirm our daily choices. In turn, our attire and appearance provide multilayered perspectives on the United States Constitution and its interpretations. This book examines the rights to expression and equality, as well as the restraints on government power, as they limit and allow control of our most personal choices of attire and grooming.

bookTattoos1Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo
Lehman College assistant professor of English and CUNY Graduate Center School of Journalism associate professor of Journalism Margot Mifflin
PowerHouse Books

Margot Mifflin has updated and resplendently illustrated this new edition of Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo, which was first published in 1997. The new edition arrives at a time when, according to a 2012 Harris Poll, American women are more likely to be tattooed than men. No longer a rebel emblem, tattoos are a mainstream fashion statement, according to Mifflin. Her research has unearthed some choice tidbits of social history: Following the upper-class social trend of the late 19th century, Winston Churchill’s mother had a tattoo of a snake eating its tail (the symbol of eternity) on her wrist.

bookHardhatsHardhats, Hippies, and Hawks: The Vietnam Antiwar Movement as Myth and Memory
School of Professional Studies assistant professor of Labor Studies Penny Lewis
Cornell University Press

In popular imagination, college students and elite intellectuals drove opposition to the Vietnam War, while the supposedly reactionary blue-collar workers supported the war. In Hardhats, Hippies, and Hawks: The Vietnam Antiwar Movement as Myth and Memory, Penny Lewis challenges the collective memory of class polarization. Through close readings of archival documents, popular culture, and media accounts at the time, she offers a more accurate, “counter-memory” of a diverse, cross-class opposition to the war in Southeast Asia that included the labor movement, working-class students, soldiers and veterans, Black Power, civil rights and Chicano activists.