Wednesday, November 30, 2016

J. Michelle Coghlan's "Sensational Internationalism"

J. Michelle Coghlan is Lecturer in American literature and culture at the University of Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in Arizona Quarterly, the Henry James Review, and Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities.

Coghlan applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Sensational Internationalism: The Paris Commune and the Remapping of American Memory in the Long Nineteenth Century, and reported the following:
Sensational Internationalism tells the story of the Paris Commune’s spectacular afterlife in American literary, visual, and performance culture following the suppression of the seventy-three day uprising in May 1871 and well into the 1930s (and beyond). In refocusing attention on the Commune as a key event in American cultural and political life, the book profoundly shifts our understanding of the relationship between France and the United States in the long nineteenth century as well as the role that a variety of nineteenth and early twentieth century media forms—from touring panorama and big-budget pyrotechnic shows to illustrated weeklies, children’s adventure fiction, and agit-prop pamphlets—played in sustaining the Commune as specter and spectacle in U.S. culture. But it also charts how the Commune provided a vital, if now largely forgotten, site for extra-national feeling and international solidarity that continued to resonate with a variety of American radicals for over five decades.

Page 99 finds us in the third chapter of the book, “Radical Calendars,” which explores the expansive annual role that the Commune occupied in late-nineteenth century U.S. radical print and performance culture, in particular the essays and speeches of three of the most prolific if still under-studied American women radicals of the period: Emma Goldman, Lucy Parsons, and Voltairine de Cleyre. Reading this spectacular annual cycle of commemoration—complete with oratory, tableaux vivants, music and dancing—as at once counter spectacles and radical acts of counter-cultural memory, I show how U.S. radicals reclaimed the crushed Parisian uprising as a living blueprint for revolutionary agitation and a key locus of international feeling rather than as a failed radical past.

From page 99:
The internationalist bent of this [Commune] festival is not surprising. As we’ve seen, cross-national anniversaries were being held across the country since the early 1870s and well beyond the turn of the century, and coverage of later Chicago festivals—for example, reports on the 1891 celebration that ran in the Atchison Champion and Raleigh (North Carolina) News and Observer—similarly observed, “The Paris Commune anniversary was celebrated by half a dozen nationalities in Chicago.” Its inclusion in the volume, however, signals an extra-national affiliation and culture of memory that highlights long before Haymarket and its aftermath how the history of American labor is a story at once within and beyond national borders.
This page encapsulates the argument I make in the chapter, but it also gets at the way that I tell that story. For in order to show how vital the Commune was to U.S. radical calendars and make this vibrant memory and movement culture more audible to American literary studies, I turned not just to the print archive left by radical organizers and publishers but also to the mainstream metropolitan newspapers which anxiously—and with no veiled hostility—telegraphed accounts of these speeches and gatherings across the country and far beyond the reach of radical print networks alone. In so doing, the book reveals both the remarkable aftershocks of the Commune and reverberations of leftwing culture in this period.
Learn more about Sensational Internationalism at the publisher's website.

My Book, The Movie: Sensational Internationalism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Robert L. Kelly's "The Fifth Beginning"

Robert L. Kelly is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wyoming. He is a past president of the Society for American Archaeology, current editor of American Antiquity, author of The Lifeways of Hunter-Gatherers, and coauthor of two popular textbooks, Archaeology and Archaeology: Down to Earth. He has conducted archaeological research throughout the western United States for more than forty years.

Kelly applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Fifth Beginning: What Six Million Years of Human History Can Tell Us about Our Future, and reported the following:
Page 99 is the last page of The Fifth Beginning’s penultimate chapter, so that tells you something about the book: it’s short. I figured someone might actually read a short book, and having your book read is the point, right?

Page 99 also marks the end of the book’s discussion of four major transitions--I call them beginnings--in humanity’s six-million-year history. And that with “hindsight we can see that dramatic changes in the material record of humanity’s odyssey on earth—stone tools, art and burials, villages, domesticated crops, elaborate tombs, palisades, temples, palaces, and so on—point to equally dramatic changes in how people related to one another.” I then ask: “Is that it? Are we at the end of history?” and propose that the answer lies in whether “another major shift [is] visible from an archaeological perspective.”

The final chapter argues that the material record of the Anthropocene suggests we are indeed in a fifth beginning, a time when, once again, the character of human life will change significantly and irreversibly. This change will be comparable to the origin of technology, culture, agriculture and the state.

All these beginnings are emergent phenomena, the result of evolutionary processes aimed at achieving one lifeway that eventually turn humanity into something completely different. Using an understanding of the first four beginnings as practice, in the final chapter I look at how three processes, the escalating cost of war, the global reach of capitalism, and a global communication network seem likely to result in the replacement of war, capitalism, and the nation-state with new methods of conflict resolution, a new form of economy, and global self-governance. It’s the end of life as we know it. Despite recent events, I take a hopeful view on humanity’s future, focusing not on chaos but on humanity’s great potential.
.Learn more about The Fifth Beginning at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 28, 2016

Stephen L. Moore's "As Good As Dead"

Stephen L. Moore is the author of eighteen books on World War II and Texas history. A sixth generation Texan, he is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.

Moore applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, As Good As Dead: The Daring Escape of American POWs From a Japanese Death Camp,and reported the following:
As Good As Dead is the tale of eleven American POWs who escaped a Japanese camp in the Philippines after their captors elected to annihilate every last prisoner. The manner in which these men survived a brutal gauntlet and persevered through the subsequent manhunt of the Palawan Massacre is almost unbelievable. The fact that eleven survived to tell their stories led directly to assaults on other Japanese camps that freed more than 3,600 Allied POWs.

By page 99 of the book, my readers have experienced a wide variety of horrible treatment administered to the American POWs. Despite the previous starvation, beatings, and cruel torture, page 99 hints that what the American POWs have endured in their first year and a half under the Imperial Japanese Army is about to take a turn for the worse. Palawan’s dreaded military police unit, the Kempei Tai, has just received a new senior officer, Master Sergeant Taichi Deguchi. His arrival foreshadows for the reader that the fate of our heroes will not be kind.

From page 99:
Deguichi became second in command of the Palawan unit, but he was soon number one on the American prisoners’ most-hated list.

Powerfully built and possessing a chilling stare, Deguichi became feared for his irrational and unprovoked outburts, in which he beat prisoners simply for fun. Deguichi was serving as the acting commander of the Kempei Tai when two more Americans tried to escape from Palawan. His handling of the affair was the most horrific war crime that the POWs had yet experienced.
Deguichi’s Kempei Tai recovers the two American escapees, proceeds to torture them for days before the entire camp, and then executes them. Other men had previously broken out of Palawan’s Camp 10-A, but the new policy of the Kempei Tai would put a damper on future efforts.

By December 14, 1944, only 150 American POWS remained on Palawan Island. On that date, their Japanese commanders opted to dispose of every living man, hoping to wipe their existence clean as Allied troops advance through the Philippines under General Douglas MacArthur. Eleven men who simply refuse to give in to their fate will survive an atrocity in what is one of the least known great escape stories of World War II.
Visit Stephen L. Moore's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Battle for Hell’s Island.

Writers Read: Stephen L. Moore.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hermione Giffard's "Making Jet Engines in World War II"

Hermione Giffard has been a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of History and Art History at Utrecht University.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Making Jet Engines in World War II: Britain, Germany, and the United States, and reported the following:
Page 99 is part of my case study of the work done by de Havillands on the Goblin jet engine. Rather than focusing on the titular inventor, it, like the book, emphasizes the other people who worked on early jet engines and the way in which knowledge and resources transferred from a pre-existing technology (piston aircraft engines) to the new engines.

Throughout, the book connects deep technical design decisions and ideas to the previous knowledge of the designer (how the old was the scaffold for the new), in this case Frank Halford, and to institutional concerns (Halford’s company changed from a consulting bureau to a part of an aero-engine company during the war). Here we see in detail how the temperaments and experience of different individuals corresponded to different engineering decisions. Far from understanding invention as the act of an independent individual, we see that invention is influenced by the organizations where it occurs.

This page illustrates well how developing a jet engine fit in with the institutional goals of the existing aero-engine industry. Although rarely mentioned, all of the early jet engines that were used by military air forces (the first in 1944 in Britain and Germany) were produced by existing aero-engine companies, each of which had existing wells of expertise and resources.

Making Jet Engines in World War II uses the case of making jet engines to offer a different way of understanding technological innovation, one that reveals the complicated mix of factors that go into any decision to pursue an innovative, and therefore risky technology. The book shows how the approaches of different nations to the jet engine differed because of each country’s war aims and industrial expertise. Germany, which produced more jet engines than any other nation, did so largely as replacements for more expensive piston engines. Britain, on the other hand, produced relatively few engines—but, by shifting emphasis to design rather than production, found itself at war's end holding an unrivaled range of designs. The US emphasis on development, meanwhile, built an institutional basis for postwar production.

Technology is shaped by many things; it is up to us to recover them if we want to understand the decisions that still shape our world today.
Learn more about Making Jet Engines in World War II at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Heather Dalton's "Merchants and Explorers"

Heather Dalton is an ARC Early Career Research Fellow in the School of Historical & Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne and a member of The Cabot Project at the University of Bristol. The focus of her current project is transnational relationships and family ties in trading networks in the 15th and 16th century Atlantic. As a historian born in England and living in Australia, she is also interested in early contacts between Australasia and Europe.

Dalton applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Merchants and Explorers: Roger Barlow, Sebastian Cabot, and Networks of Atlantic Exchange 1500-1560, and reported the following:
From February 1527 to August 1528, Roger Barlow, merchant and contador to the Spanish king, explored the vast river system of the River Plate in South America with Sebastian Cabot. In doing so, he became the first Englishman to set foot in present day Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil, and the first to write a detailed eyewitness account of America.

As well as being an explorer, servant of Charles V, and ally of Sebastian Cabot, Barlow was also an avid proponent of expanding English trading routes. He and Cabot carved out successful careers in Seville at a time when there were fortunes to be made in supporting voyages and supplying Castile’s burgeoning settlements across the Atlantic. They and their companions instigated a voyage of discovery and survived the hardships of months at sea. When both men returned to the British Isles—Barlow around 1531 and Cabot in 1548—they had trading, navigational, and exploratory knowledge that made them truly unique. In 1541 while living in Wales and unsettled by the fall of his patron Thomas Cromwell, Barlow presented Henry VIII with a cosmography in the hope of gaining the king’s support for further voyages. This cosmography contained his personal account of the River Plate.

Page 99 of Merchants and Explorers is representative of my book in that at its core is Atlantic exploration. Halfway down the page is the heading 'A CANNIBAL ‘FEAST'. This signals the fact that in this account, Barlow included a description of how the Guaranís fattened and then ritually slaughtered their prisoners of war before eating them (Guaraní is the word for warrior in the Tupí-Guaraní dialect). This description is the first detailed description by a European to have survived. Barlow wrote it over a decade before the German Hans Staden was captured by the Tupinambá and witnessed a similar ritual. Barlow included the description of cannibalism in order to emphasise the otherness of the New World and, like Staden, to titillate his reader.
Learn more about Merchants and Explorers at the Oxford University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Merchants and Explorers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Sharon Farmer's "The Silk Industries of Medieval Paris"

Sharon Farmer is Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Silk Industries of Medieval Paris: Artisanal Migration, Technological Innovation, and Gendered Experience, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Silk Industries of Medieval Paris takes the reader to the heart of a discussion of immigrants from Italy and Cyprus who worked as entrepreneurs and artisans in the Parisian silk industry of the late thirteenth century. The evidence concerning these immigrants, and the positive role that they played in the Parisian economy at the time, speaks to key contemporary questions about immigrants and local economies that are playing out at this very moment in Britain, France, and the U.S.

As I explain in the introduction to the book (which you can read online at the University of Pennsylvania Press’ website), between 1950 and 1990, French medieval historians of the Annales school played a major role in perpetuating a myth that nearly all French people of the twentieth century had descended from peasants who once worked the French soil. Such claims were extremely erroneous – but they played a powerful role in constructing French national identity. French historians such as Gérard Noiriel have already debunked those claims by examining the important role that immigrants played in French society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My book takes that examination back even further, thereby suggesting that the French “melting pot” is centuries old.

The book also elucidates the role that the influx of immigrants could play in transforming relationships between the sexes. When Italian business men of the thirteenth century moved to Paris, gained recognition as local taxpayers, and married French women, they adapted business practices that were much more open to women’s economic activities than were the business practices of their male relatives who remained in the towns of Northern Italy. And when Mediterranean artisans introduced new silk technologies to Paris, they ended up working in an industry that provided much more space, than was the case in their towns to the south, for prominent women artisans and entrepreneurs. Indeed, the new silk industry that took shape in late thirteenth century Paris ended up providing some of the best employment opportunities that were available for women anywhere in Europe at the time.
Learn more about The Silk Industries of Medieval Paris at the University of Pennsylvania Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Adam Kotsko's "The Prince of This World"

Adam Kotsko is Assistant Professor of Humanities at Shimer College in Chicago. His books include Why We Love Sociopaths (2012) and Politics of Redemption (2010).

Kotsko applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Prince of This World, and reported the following:
The curious thing about page 99 of The Prince of This World is that it does not explicitly mention the devil at all. Instead, it discusses two key steps in the medieval theologian Anselm of Canterbury’s famous text Why God Became Human. First, it talks about the dynamic by which God entraps the sinner into an unpayable debt. For Anselm, we owe God absolute obedience:
Anselm characterizes this obedience, which every rational creature (angelic or human) owes to God unconditionally and perpetually, as a way of giving God his proper honor. By disobeying God, the creature is depriving God of the honor due to him, and not only does this create a debt to God, but it digs the sinner ever-deeper into the hole.
Secondly, it begins discussing a curious feature of Anselm’s text—the fact that he pictures God as a property developer, trying to fill all the units in his heavenly city after some of the angels unexpectedly rebel against his rule.

While this passage may seem purely expositional, it is revealing of the roots of the project. A close reading of Why God Became Human convinced me that the devil could serve as a kind of index for tracking major shifts in Christian thought. Most contemporary Christians follow Anselm’s account of why the incarnation of Christ is able to save us—namely, that he was somehow making up for our sins, paying off our debts vicariously. Previously, theologians embraced the view that Jesus came to set us free from the domination of the devil. Anselm aggressively refutes the previous view, and in so doing he ushers in a huge change to Christian political theology—for the worse, in my opinion.

Finally, the discussion of debt and property development reflects the fact that I view the seemingly abstract theological debates about the devil as surprisingly and even urgently relevant for understanding the deep dynamics of contemporary Western societies. We are all increasingly entrapped in debts that we can never repay—both literal debts and more figurative obligations, such as the impossibly absolute submission the police demand from black Americans—and told that it is nonetheless our responsibility to fix the situation. Unfortunately for us secularized sinners, however, no savior appears to be forthcoming.
Learn more about The Prince of This World at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Erynn Masi de Casanova's "Buttoned Up"

Erynn Masi de Casanova is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Cincinnati. She is the author of the award-winning book Making Up the Difference: Women, Beauty, and Direct Selling in Ecuador (2011) and co-editor of Bodies without Borders and Global Beauty, Local Bodies (both 2013). With Afshan Jafar, she is co-editor of the series Palgrave Studies in Globalization and Embodiment.

Casanova applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, Buttoned Up: Clothing, Conformity, and White-Collar Masculinity, and reported the following:
Positioned right after the photo insert of white-collar men dressed for work, Chapter 4 bears the title “The Metrosexual is Dead, Long Live the Metrosexual!” This is where you will find page 99 of Buttoned Up.

In my research for the book, I interviewed a diverse group of white-collar men in three U.S. cities to find out how they decided what to wear to work each day. How did they feel about office dress codes? How did they adapt their dress to different situations and positions in the workplace hierarchy? How did changes in the world of work—from increased precarity to Casual Friday—affect their self-presentation? These questions are important because they expose the cultures and working conditions within business organizations, allowing us to explore what it means to wear the white collar in the 2000s. Based on men’s vivid accounts, I show how they engage in a strategic embrace of conformity, following official and unofficial clothing rules in order to fit in and move up at work. In most company cultures, these rules discourage ostentation and experimentation, and men feel pressure to dress sedately and professionally (a loaded term, as my book shows) whether they work in a casual office or a suit-and-tie environment. Even men who may be interested in fashion and trends may make the strategic decision to conform while at the office. Conformity in dress is one manifestation of a larger regime of social conformity, which can have the concrete effects of squelching dissent and discouraging diversity.

The chapter in which we find page 99 considers a subset of 30 interviews, in which the word “metrosexual” came up. This word conjures images of youngish, urban men who spend time and money on looking good and dressing well. Men I interviewed offered both positive and negative views on the metrosexual stereotype. While a few embraced the label, more men saw “metrosexual” as an insult, a veiled way of calling a man gay. Despite the increasing acceptance of gay people in U.S. society, this link to sexual orientation is what made the metrosexual term an insult. Some interviewees claimed that the term was passé, and that it had lost its sting over time. This claim is the main point of page 99. One interviewee said: “It’s just a label for normal.” Another said:
“you can no longer look at someone, and because their belt matches their shoes, assume that that person is gay… People are realizing that it’s a socially acceptable—and it’s really an expected—thing to dress well.”
Another interviewee also reflected on metrosexuality and sexual orientation, saying that with the emergence of the term “metrosexual… a straight guy can be interested in what he wears more.” Drawing on these and other interviews, I argue:
While the term may still be stigmatizing, then, some of the practices it evokes are not stigmatized any more… the word loses its power because the things that metrosexuals supposedly do become seen as normal.
In many areas of contemporary life in the U.S., ideals of masculinity and socially acceptable performances of masculinity are shifting. Among the new values is the idea that real men can care about their appearance. Beauty, fashion, and grooming become things that (straight) men are allowed to engage with. In the rest of the chapter, though, I show that although the range of “normal” masculine practices is expanding, the normalization of metrosexuality does not lead to an embrace of femininity. The privilege that straight men experience vis-à-vis women and gay men remains unchanged. In corporate workplaces like those of my interviewees, these inequalities can have real consequences for women and gay men as marginalized workers: lower salaries, promotions denied, smaller networks. So we shouldn’t be too quick to celebrate the diffusion of metrosexual sensibilities and practices, which does little to disturb existing hierarchies and promote inclusion.
Learn more about Buttoned Up at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Making Up the Difference.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 21, 2016

Janet Neary's "Fugitive Testimony"

Janet Neary is Associate Professor of Nineteenth-century African American Literature and Culture in the English Department, Hunter College, City University of New York.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Fugitive Testimony: On the Visual Logic of Slave Narratives, and reported the following:
In Fugitive Testimony I examine slave narratives through conceptual frameworks borrowed from contemporary visual art, and, conversely, demonstrate how certain modes of what I call textual visuality are traceable to these early texts. While present-day artists who use slave narratives in their work—including Glenn Ligon and Kara Walker—are often celebrated for their savvy and ironic treatment of the seemingly antiquated conventions and race rituals governing the structure and function of these early literary texts, I show how the ex-slave narrators themselves deploy sophisticated visual discourse to challenge racist assumptions and to undermine the control exerted over them as narrators by the abolitionist publishing juggernaut. Focusing on the visual challenges ex-slave narrators present to those assumptions, the book illuminates the sustained challenge African American cultural producers present to the damaging race rituals that reify a black/white binary in all phases of racial capitalism.

Applying the Page 99 Test, I was surprised to see how accurate it was! In the course of writing the book I realized that not only were ex-slave narrators challenging the visual logic of dominant culture—which understood sight as an objective function and visual material as self-evident—but that they were also advancing an understanding of visuality founded on sight as a subjective operation and visual material as a matter of interpretation inseparable from its context. The book demonstrates the stakes of these distinct treatments of visual material: an evidentiary paradigm of visuality (“seeing is believing”) insisted on by white abolitionists, which resulted in countless reproductions in image and text of the brutalized black body; and a subjective paradigm of visuality which was skeptical of the objectifying potential of these portrayals of brutality and instead offered intersubjective recognition as visuality’s paramount function. On page 99 of the book I give an account of a story related in William Craft’s Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom in which an escaped slave dresses as a white planter and returns South to purchase his sister. Although the sale goes through, the sister doesn’t recognize her brother in disguise and refuses to go with him until he shows her a likeness of their mother. While it seems the image operates as proof of their relation, in fact it represents the sentimental familial connection between the two that can’t be seen under the laws of slavery. The parable demonstrates the triumph of human recognition over objectifying evidence.
Learn more about Fugitive Testimony at the Fordham University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lisa Napoli's "Ray & Joan"

A journalist for over thirty years, Lisa Napoli was among the pioneering team of reporters at the New York Times who covered the early days of the dot-com era.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald's Fortune and the Woman Who Gave It All Away, and reported the following:
From page 99:
…the fiscally prudent Harry wanted to take the company public, the ultimate triumph for a serious businessman, while Ray was wary of that path. He wasn’t keen on having to live by Wall Street’s rules and regulations. Harry believed selling stock was the only chance they’d get to personally cash in on their hard work.

Though Ray would religiously devour the morning sales reports for each store—paying particular attention to the numbers from Rapid City, where Rollie was still at the helm—he continued to find the nuts and bolts and rules and regulations of the financial world of no interest. Those “codfish aristocrats.” he sniffed, knew nothing about real work. He preferred his role as chairman-salesman, swooping in to police the parking los for trash and micromanaging the presentation of food by the hourly workers, confabbing with the franchisees on whose backs the business had been built. They revered him.

With a swagger, he liked to dangle the carrot of a franchise to select associates and friends. To make it possible for some of Jane’s family to get in on the game, Ray waived the required cash deposit, which had risen to $15,000. Harry was not only angry about this bush-league transgression: he worked to block it, calling on the corporate lawyers to support his resistance. Everything needed to be above-board, by the book, so that the ledgers were as bulletproof and defensible as possible. Ray harrumphed and managed to front the necessary deposit money to the relatives himself.
Today, unless you’re of a certain age or a business student, you probably don’t know the name Ray Kroc. In his time, he was the legendary founding chairman of McDonald’s. But that was a carefully constructed myth that omitted the reality—that the brothers McDonald came up with the assembly line process that moved along fast food, and that another man named Harry Sonneborn cooked up the winning franchise formula that allowed the sleepy desert burger stand to flourish.

On page 99 of Ray & Joan, Harry and Ray are headed for their ultimate denouement, but not before Harry gets his wish, which turns each man into an instant-multi-millionaire. At this stage, circa 1965, Ray is still married to Jane, the second wife he married as a placeholder while pining for his true love, Joan—who had spurned him earlier. (He’d gone ahead and divorced his first wife, anyhow.) To tell the story of Joan the great philanthropist, of course, you had to tell the story of how Ray got rich-and how he and she finally came together.
Visit Lisa Napoli's website.

Writers Read: Lisa Napoli.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Judith E. Stein's "Eye of the Sixties"

Judith E. Stein, a writer and curator, studied at Barnard College, and has a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Pennsylvania. She applied the “Page 99 Testto her new book, Eye of the Sixties: Richard Bellamy and the Transformation of Modern Art, and reported the following:
By the time you reach page 99 of Eye of the Sixties, dear reader, you’ll be well acquainted with thirty-year-old Dick Bellamy. It’s 1959, and this charismatic, Chinese American beatnik is just one year away from opening his Green Gallery on 57th Street in New York, secretly supported by the taxi magnate Robert Scull. The market for contemporary American art is about to explode into life, and the prescient Bellamy would find himself shell-shocked at ground zero, and soon run for cover. Yet thanks to his uncanny eye for talent and ambition, he would launch the careers of nearly all the iconic artists of the sixties: he’d be the first to show Andy Warhol’s pop paintings, the first to sell a work by Yoko Ono, the first to show Kusama’s phallic furniture, and Flavin’s neon sculpture.

But he’s not quite there yet on page 99. He’s working selling art in someone else’s gallery, dreaming up titles for shows that “mimicked the chance poetry of labels on multivolume reference books and card catalogue drawers.” He doesn’t last long. A friend tries to connect him with another dealer “who was about to open a gallery on Fifty-Seventh Street. [The fellow] was keenly interested in what he called ‘present- day’ art, and to [the friend], the two seemed a promising match. But Bellamy failed to impress the older man, who must have regarded him as too close to the raggle-taggle do-it-yourselfers downtown.” (Non-commercial artist cooperatives flourished in downtown Manhattan in the fifties.)

By page 99, you’ll be hooked by the unfolding story of this eccentric, charming, self-effacing visionary, an insider’s outsider and, alas, a womanizing alcoholic, who preferred not to enrich himself in the art market. Posterity-averse, Bellamy is the most influential tastemaker you’ve never heard of. By the final page (274), when you read about the poignant, near fictional manner of his death, it will be impossible to forget him.
Visit the Eye of the Sixties website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Julia L. Foulkes's "A Place for Us"

Julia Foulkes is the author of Modern Bodies: Dance and American Modernism from Martha Graham to Alvin Ailey (2002) and To the City: Urban Photographs of the New Deal (2011).

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, A Place for Us: West Side Story and New York, and reported the following:
West Side Story was a Cold War story. There were two superpowers on the block; an escalated arms race, from fists to rocks to knives; and there were explosions—made real in dance. “Cool” was the most physical expression of this. With a “rocket in your pocket,” Jets shoot straight up, tightening their bodies into coiled rods. Hands and legs dart out and up; tight turns end on the ground only for the dancers to spring up into action again. The dancing makes clear that cool masks hot and it also provided a meaningful analogy to the dangerous global politics of the moment. This became clear when Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev visited the United Nations in New York in the fall of 1960. He burst into anger at various times when countries criticized the Soviet Union’s actions. In a speech, British prime minister Harold Macmillan, who had become a mediator between the USSR and the US, quoted the song’s lyrics, urging Khrushchev to “get cool, boy.”

Page 99 details how West Side Story became a battle in this larger war. Traveling Soviet dancers flocked to the show and pushed for it to tour their country. The producers sought State Department sponsorship, which the department denied year after year for fear that it would bolster negative views of the U.S. So the Soviets made their own version of the musical, heightening the social commentary to reveal the “immorality of American social culture.”

It’s not surprising that the Soviets revised West Side Story to serve their own ideological purposes; what may be more surprising is the number of places where there was no need for changes for the production to resonate. More on that in the book!
Visit Julia Foulkes's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

David Sax's "The Revenge of Analog"

David Sax is a writer and reporter who specializes in business and culture. His work appears regularly in Bloomberg Businessweek, The New Yorker's Currency blog, and other publications. He is the author of Save the Deli, which won a James Beard Award for Writing and Literature, and The Tastemakers. He lives in Toronto.

Sax applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter, and reported the following:
From page 98:
Toward the end of the night I stood over a table in the corner, where ve men were playing a kids game called River Runner. Players had to match cards by memory, so as to cross a raging river. It looked so simple and perfect, I asked the designer, Daniel Rocchi, whether I could buy the prototype right there. These guys were members of the Board Game Designers Guild of Canada, a community built around mentoring and helping fellow designers get their games to market. It was partly led by Sen-Foong Lim, an occupational therapist and professor of developmental psychology, who had designed games as diverse as the hilarious infomercial party pitch But Wait, There’s More! and an adaptation of the TV show Orphan Black.

Lim saw game designing as a “jobby,” a mixture of a job and hobby that made just enough money to justify the time it required away from his family. Even though there were blockbuster games out there, the vast majority of tabletop games were made for the love of gaming. “My goal is simple,” Lim said. “The more games we put out there, the more the culture of gaming grows.” Lim acknowledged the power of digital tools to bring that analog culture to life. He had raised money on Kickstarter, was a regular on Board Game Geek, and even hosted his own podcast. But he also firmly believed that the revenge of board games was due to the real, physical communities made possible by such places as Snakes & Lattes.

“Snakes is proof,” he said, looking around the café, which was completely full on a Monday night at eleven p.m. with people of all ages, sexes, backgrounds, and interests playing all sorts of games. “Proof that this hobby is further reaching than a bunch of guys living in their mom’s basement, playing D&D. This is a real place where real people play real games,” said Lim, as he set up yet another game, and his friends all gathered round to play.
I used Page 98, because 99 is actually a blank page between chapters. It takes place at the end of chapter 4, the Revenge of Board Games, which focuses on the growth of tabletop games and the places people play them. What’s incredible about this is how much cardboard games have grown over the past decade, even though we now have easier, more powerful access to video games anywhere than ever before. A lot of this chapter takes place at Snakes and Lattes, a pioneering board game cafe very close to me in Toronto, which is one of the better known ones worldwide, for bringing gaming out of the shadows (and the super nerds) and popularizing it with a wider swath of the population.

The key ingredient to Snakes and Lattes, and the games boom in general, isn’t the location, or the food or drinks there. It’s the ability of board games to bring people together in real time, as a sort of social lubricant. Games are the excuse for relationships and interactions, and they deliver it in a real, analog way that’s vastly more meaningful and rewarding than any online multiplayer game. This holds as true for couples on a first date going to Snakes and Lattes, as it does for the regulars there, who go weekly or even daily. The text above takes place at the end of a game designer night they regularly host, where aspiring and professional board game designers come to test out prototypes and get feedback from peers. It’s the perfect example of the type of real community analog goods and ideas can foster.
Visit David Sax's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Christopher P. Magra's "Poseidon’s Curse"

Christopher P. Magra is an Associate Professor of Early American history at the University of Tennessee, and author of The Fisherman's Cause: Atlantic Commerce and Maritime Dimensions of the American Revolution.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Poseidon's Curse: British Naval Impressment and Atlantic Origins of the American Revolution, and reported the following:
The American Revolution was deeply moored in Atlantic matters. Dramatic events on and around the Atlantic Ocean shaped the contours of this formative event.

The British navy forcibly appropriated ships and manpower for military purposes along the West Coast of Africa, off Caribbean shores, within sight of European ports, and up and down the eastern seaboard of North America. Press gangs forcibly requisitioned free labor and private property. British naval impressment supported the rise of Great Britain’s seaborne empire, then it contributed to its decline.

The British Empire appropriated free laborers to man the warships that defended overseas colonies and maritime commerce. Mariners resented the ways in which impressment jeopardized their earning potential and occupational mobility. Maritime employers were bitter about the detrimental effect of manpower losses on trade.

British press gangs took mariners into military service around the Atlantic World. Why, then, did impressment only contribute to a revolution in North America? Extensive new archival research demonstrates that a sea of shared resentment and particular American concerns about imperial policy changes largely explain why impressment is listed in the Declaration of Independence as one of the foremost grievances Americans had with the British government.

Page 99 of Poseidon’s Curse is fantastic. It will leave you spellbound. It is the introduction to the second part of the book. Are you ready for this? Here it is. Page 99 in its entirety:
The shared burdens of a seaborne empire generated resentment among Britons living and working in different regions around the Atlantic World. The British state commonly used impressment to man, supply, and transport military forces across watery highways. But, conventionality did not foster widespread acceptance. Like slavery, just because impressment existed for centuries and was widely used did not mean people did not resent it, nor did it mean people did not resist it. The military appropriation of labor and property generated a significant amount of resentment and resistance across the social spectrum in regions around the world over the course of the early modern era. Maritime employers resented the ways in which impressment jeopardized profit margins and private property. They equated their ability to pursue profit and control property with political liberty. Mariners resented press gangs because they curtailed their earning potential and employment options. For these Britons, liberty was connected to wage rates and occupational mobility. This sea of resentment provided the basis for a significant portion of the material and ideological origins of the American Revolution.
When you regain control of your senses and purchase a copy of the book, you will see that the first and third introductions are equally amazing. I hope you find that I make a compelling case for shifting the focus of our study of the origins of the American Revolution out to sea.
Learn more about Poseidon's Curse at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Fisherman's Cause.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Donal Harris's "On Company Time"

Donal Harris is an assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of Memphis. His work has appeared in PMLA, Modern Language Quarterly, Criticism: A Journal, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Harris applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, On Company Time: American Modernism in the Big Magazines, and reported the following:
It’s remarkably fitting to apply Ford Madox Ford’s “Page 99 Test” to On Company Time, which explores the give and take between early-twentieth century commercial magazines and the ostensibly non-commercial, “serious” literature known as modernism. Ford travelled in the same London and Parisian literary circles as T.S. Eliot, Archibald MacLeish, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, and Ernest Hemingway, all writers who loom large in my book. More specifically, though, Ford’s literary influence depended as much on his role as a magazine editor, first at the English Review and then at the Transatlantic Review, as it did on his own novels. In fact, the basic argument of On Company Time is that Ford’s “double life” in editorial offices and as a novelist is exemplary of modernism in general, which depended on the culture of commercial magazines in a number of unacknowledged ways.

My book focuses mostly American writers and magazines, and Page 99 falls near the end of a chapter on The Crisis, which was (and still is) the house organ of the N.A.A.C.P. This section discusses a wonderful, strange short story, “The Sleeper Wakes,” by Jessie Fausett, which follows a young, possibly mixed-race woman named Amy through a series of “incidents” and “phases” (as Fausett calls them). First she is a dreamy moviegoer, then an East Village bohemian, then a Southern belle, then a Manhattan shop girl, and, eventually, a prodigal daughter returned home to Harlem. Page 99 finds me arguing that the specifics of the story’s publication influence its literary style.

Like a lot of fiction from the time period (it was published in 1920), “The Sleeper Wakes” was serialized over multiple issues, so subscribers to The Crisis who read each issue as it came out wouldn’t experience the whole story at one time. So I suggest that these disjointed phases of Amy’s life are meant to imitate the serial publication of the story. Amy’s experiences are independently meaningful but also part of a longer life story, just as “The Sleeper Wakes” arrives in three different issues of the magazine that make sense by themselves but also add up something greater than the parts. And I attribute this noticeable connection between periodical form (a magazine gets published incrementally, week to week or month to month) and literary form (Amy’s life “phases” also occurs incrementally) to Fausett’s “double life” as editor of and contributor to The Crisis. She managed the daily work of the magazine during its most successful years, but she also contributed a number of essays and stories and served as something of a talent scout among the burgeoning scene that will come to be known as the Harlem Renaissance.

So Page 99 contains an argument about the feedback between Fausett’s day job at The Crisis and her artistic endeavors: her job as an editor effects how she writes fiction, and her fiction helps us to see the editorial norms of the magazine. In that way, it offers a microcosm of On Company Time. But it’s unique, too, because this chapter deals with the special difficulty of trying to create a popular African American magazine in the early 1900s. The Crisis modeled itself on big magazines like McClure’s and Century, but its status as a “race magazine” changes the dynamics of the writers’ attitudes toward print culture, as well as the magazine’s goals for reaching a large audience.

Taking a cue from Jessie Fausett, though, I’ll leave the rest of that argument as a cliffhanger – though one admittedly less enticing as those contained in “The Sleeper Wakes.” To see what happens next, you’ll have to buy the book.
Learn more about On Company Time at the Columbia University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Robert W. Baloh's "Vertigo"

Robert W. Baloh, MD is a professor of Neurology and Head and Neck Surgery at UCLA who has written more than 300 research articles and several textbooks focusing on the vestibular system. His interest in the history of Neurotology dates back to a series of conversations with Raphael Lorente de Nó in the early 1970s.

Baloh applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Vertigo: Five Physician Scientists and the Quest for a Cure, and reported the following:
This book tells the story of the search for, and discovery of, a simple cure for vertigo, that strange sense of spinning, when you’re really not. In the process I provide a historical approach to understanding the vestibular system – the parts of the inner ear involved in balance and equilibrium and their connections within the brain.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is by far the most common cause of vertigo. Sudden violent spells of vertigo are triggered by a change in position such as turning over in bed, getting in and out of bed, bending down and straightening up, and extending the head back to look up. As I delved into the history of the discovery of a simple bedside cure for BPPV, I became intrigued with the individuals who made the major contributions. In many ways, the story is a microcosm of the development of medical science over the past century and a half. The road to the discovery of a cure for BPPV involved investigators from around the world and was strewn with missed opportunities, serendipitous findings and academic intrigue.

On page 99 of my book I illustrate the Romberg and past-pointing tests used by Robert Bárány to measure vestibular function in patients. Bárány, the first to clearly describe BPPV, had a brilliant early career working in the clinic of the pioneer otologist Adam Politzer at the University of Vienna. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work on the inner ear in 1914 but his colleagues at the University of Vienna suggested that his ideas were not original and that he had plagiarized others in his writings. As circumstances became intolerable in Vienna, Bárány moved to Uppsala, Sweden where he spent the rest of his career in relative isolation.

I have been in a unique position to obtain information about the key investigators described in the book. I’ve worked on and written about the vestibular system for more than 40 years and have been collecting historical data including detailed interviews with family members and colleagues. I have had access to numerous historical documents that have not previously been translated into English.
Learn more about Vertigo at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Kedron Thomas's "Regulating Style"

Kedron Thomas is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. She is coeditor, with Kevin Lewis O’Neill, of Securing the City: Neoliberalism, Space, and Insecurity in Postwar Guatemala.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Regulating Style: Intellectual Property Law and the Business of Fashion in Guatemala, and reported the following:
Fashion knock-offs are everywhere. Even in the out-of-the-way markets of highland Guatemala, fake branded clothes offer a cheap, stylish alternative for people who can’t afford high-priced originals. Fashion companies have taken notice, ensuring that international trade agreements include stronger intellectual property (IP) protections to prevent and punish brand “piracy,” the unauthorized reproduction of trademarked brand names and logos. Regulating Style approaches the fashion industry from the perspective of indigenous Maya people who make and sell knock-offs, asking why they copy and wear popular brands, how they interact with legal frameworks and state agents who criminalize their livelihoods, and exploring the ethics and values that structure their trade.

Rather conveniently for the purposes of this post, page 99 summarizes some of the main arguments put forth in one of the book’s central chapters. Here is a brief excerpt:
IP protections are one set of legal mechanisms by which Guatemala is supposed to demonstrate that it is on the “progressive path” toward development and becoming a fully modern nation-state … and by which its citizens are to be reoriented toward formal, rational market participation. Maya businessmen are not strategically engaging in illegal behavior because of a proclivity toward crime, however. The values that inform their design, production, and marketing decisions cannot be described accurately in terms of a dualism between collectivist societies and Western individualism, as if concern for one’s neighbors and an ethic of sharing were antiquated features of a precapitalist or otherwise primitive national culture. Guatemalan apparel producers are not defying the law out of some kind of simple self-interest either. In point of fact, they are actively constructing an industry and a marketplace for fashionable garments in highland Guatemala at a felt distance from the rights-bearing corporations that seem so troubled by their “lawbreaking.”
The point is that social scientists, policy makers, and the corporations that support strong IP protections tend to frame copying and imitation as culturally backwards, economically detrimental, and also morally wrong. But what do the people who copy fashion logos think about what they are doing? This excerpt hints at the fact that indigenous Maya people who design, make, and sell knock-off fashions place tremendous value on creativity and innovation and have their own ethics, explored at length in the book, regarding when and how one may copy. These on-the-ground realities of knock-off fashion production challenge the models of economic rationality and development on which IP law rests.

Page 99 wraps up an argument about cultural difference and ethnographic specificity, but that is only one part of the story. The book goes on to demonstrate that IP law misconstrues the function of trademarks in the fashion system writ large – whether one is talking about highland Guatemala, Paris, or New York. In all of these fashion scenes, trademarked brand names and logos are commonly used as design elements and have an aesthetic role in the constitution of style. IP law claims, however, to protect signatures of corporate ownership and authenticity. This discrepancy (and others explored in the book) raises questions about why IP law matters for the global industry and what it accomplishes. My contention is that what is really at stake in enforcement efforts is the maintenance of racial, class, gender, and geographical divides that position some populations as rightful creators and consumers and others as mere copycats.
Learn more about Regulating Style at the University of California Press.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Andrew W. M. Smith's "Terror and Terroir"

Andrew W. M. Smith is Teaching Fellow at University College London. He has also worked as an Associate Lecturer at Brunel University London, Queen Mary, University of London and the University of Chichester.

Smith applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Terror and Terroir: The Winegrowers of the Languedoc and Modern France, and reported the following:
Winegrowing is a rustic profession rooted in the soil, and seared by the sun. In the South of France, it has often been seen as a profession for burly men with rough hands, earth on their boots and overalls that bore testament to their graft in the fields. Prominent spokesmen for these southern winegrowers were celebrated for their skill on the rugby field, and the weathered faces of these labourers was trumpeted as the sign of a burden nobly born. In my book, Terror and terroir: the winegrowers of the Languedoc and modern France, I explore this world of winegrowing at its most intense, looking at a group of militant winegrowers called the Comité Régional d’Action Viticole (CRAV). This group was the armed wing of the unions, who sought to defend their interests by any means necessary, including bombs, bullets and barricades.

It was with surprise, therefore, that on carrying out ‘the page 99 test’, I found some valuable nuance in this image. I turned to page 99 which fell in the midst of Chapter 3, ‘Molotovs in the Minervois: revolution in the vines (1961–1976)’. Despite the violent rhetoric, and amidst discussions of veterans of the Algerian War, I take a step back from this boys’ club to ask where the women of the region were when it came to protests, and what we might understand by their absence.
Looking at postcards and pictures of the 1907 demonstrations, it is striking that women hold some of the most important symbolic positions. Yet, in the postwar world, there are remarkably fewer female faces to be counted in the records of these protests, fewer vocal spokeswomen, and less discussion of the Languedoc’s daughters.
In this section, ‘Women, winegrowing and protest’, I look at how changes to the world of wine reinforced traditional gender roles and served to minimise the space for women’s voices amongst the winegrowing radicals.
[T]he forces the CRAV seemed to be standing against (the capitalist rationalisation of winegrowing), pushed women into domestic labour spheres, and increasingly separated them from the identity of winegrower. To put it simply, tractors tended to replace women in the vineyard, marginalising their voices when the defence of winegrowing was raised in the post-war world.
Yet, despite this paucity of female involvement, it would be rash to conclude that women were absent from the movement. One of the key means of broadening the movement’s appeal was to encourage winegrowers to bring their wives to demonstrations, and this was a key policy from one of the CRAV leaders in the 1960s.
Bringing women to meetings boosted numbers, engaged whole households in the movement and helped ensure the CRAV could call on a wider array of support by speaking to the domestic alongside the professional and predominantly masculine world of unions.
This ensured that some prominent women were represented in the 1960s, when the winegrowers’ movement was establishing itself as a potent social force in the South of France. In particular, Madame Gélis became a prominent spokeswoman, though was always referred to in this formal manner, and never by her first name. This in itself hints at certain unspoken limits. Gélis never challenged gender norms, and her activism was voiced firmly in the language of domesticity. This language of protest was designed to reinforce that downturn in the winegrowing of the Languedoc, the dominant economic activity of the region with a vast cultural symbolism, was felt sharply at the hearth of ordinary working people. The movement was radical in its methods, though never dependably radical in its social outlook. If they opposed the markets, it was in favour of the artisanal and the local. If they petitioned the government, it was for aid, or to prosecute the oft-suspected fraud that blighted the market. Theirs was not a radicalism that challenged gender norms or offered alternative models for social interaction.

The story of the CRAV is dominated by rugged masculinity, the endurance of suffering, and explosions of violent protest. It is steeped in the legacy of the region and its culture, presenting a strident challenge to Paris and national attempts to reform the region. Yet it is telling that at the heart of this book is an acknowledgement of absence, and a gendered reading of this avowedly male movement. Looking at page 99 has offered me a different perspective on my own work, and highlighted an important aspect of the study overall. To quote the introduction to the book,

“If France was, as Michelet contended, ‘the daughter of her liberty’, the Languedoc was, in many ways, the daughter of her vines.”
Visit Andrew W. M. Smith's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 7, 2016

Stephen D. Engle's "Gathering to Save a Nation"

Stephen D. Engle is professor of history at Florida Atlantic University and director of the Alan B. and Charna Larkin Symposium on the American Presidency.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book Gathering to Save a Nation: Lincoln and the Union's War Governors, and reported the following:
Yes, page 99 is representative of my book as it reveals how governors contributed to the northern leviathan that emerged early in the war. Governors took steps to not only prosecute the war, but also to stay in line with Lincoln’s limited war aims to achieve the ultimate goal of preserving the Union. They used their legislative messages and their private and public correspondence with offices, congressmen, soldiers, and civilians to explain the war as a contest to rescue the Union from dissolution. Indeed, the war provided northern governors the opportunity to demonstrate that states had more rights in the Union than outside of it. Gathering to Save a Nation examines how the Federal Union worked during the nation's greatest crisis and reveals just how powerful the alliance was between Lincoln and his statesmen.
Learn more about Gathering to Save a Nation at the publisher's website.

My Book, The Movie: Gathering to Save a Nation.

Writers Read: Stephen D. Engle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Brad Osborn's "Everything in its Right Place"

Brad Osborn is Assistant Professor of Music Theory at the University of Kansas. His articles on Radiohead and other recent rock music are published in Music Theory Spectrum, Perspectives of New Music, Music Analysis, Music Theory Online, Gamut, and in several edited collections. Osborn writes and records atmospheric rock music under the artist moniker, D'Archipelago.

Osborn applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Everything in its Right Place: Analyzing Radiohead, and reported the following:
From page 99:
The through-composed form [of “Fitter Happier”] provides the structure for a seemingly benevolent set of instructions near the beginning of the track to malfunction and derail toward apocalyptic prophecies including nuclear winter and horrific factory farming practices. Similarly, in “2+2=5” (2003–1, 1:54) the seam between the B and C sections results from the cooperation of timbre, harmony, and rhythm. The heavily distorted electric guitar playing power chords in 4⁄4 time—conventional timbres, harmonies, and rhythms which have not yet been heard in the track—instantly affords rock for the first time on the album, and perhaps even grunge for the first time since OK Computer.
My book examines four parameters in Radiohead’s music (form, rhythm, timbre, harmony), and argues that the ways in which they structure these musical facets activates a “sweet spot” just between expectation and surprise in our perceptual senses. Though I give each of these four parameters a sovereign chapter, it becomes clear that, especially in Radiohead’s music, these parameters are all interrelated and interdependent.

This excerpt, for example, comes from the “timbre” chapter, which analyzes not only all of the different instruments Radiohead uses, but the different ways that those instruments and voices are deformed through digital and analog effects. But our perception of timbre is heavily influenced by song form. Both “Fitter, Happier” (1997) and “2+2=5” (2003) have a pretty rare formal design called “through-composed.” Quite the opposite of your standard verse/chorus or strophic forms, which repeat sections several times, these constantly evolving forms are more psychologically taxing to process because they essentially contain 3–4 times more information.

Luckily, we don’t process bits of information as discrete chunks (talk about information overload!). Instead, we make sense of musical stimuli in terms of larger gestalt patterns. Therefore, our perception of rock and grunge timbres—which are pretty rare things for Radiohead just after Kid A/Amnesiac—relies just as much on the form, harmony, and rhythm with which those timbres are presented.
Learn more about Everything in its Right Place at the Oxford University Press.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Joel Mokyr's "A Culture of Growth"

Joel Mokyr is the Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor of economics and history at Northwestern University, and Sackler Professor at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at the University of Tel Aviv. His many books include The Enlightened Economy and The Gifts of Athena. He is the recipient of the Heineken Prize for History and the International Balzan Prize for Economic History.

Mokyr applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy, and reported the following:
From page 99:
to a coherent philosophical system what hitherto had been only partially articulated assumptions of practical men.

Today, to be sure, the significance of Bacon’s legacy for the history of science can be disputed, but his impact on the prestige and agenda of scientific endeavors and indeed on all studies of useful knowledge, including technology, is undiminished. The consensus view is still that “the ethos he infused into modern science as something inherently related to social development remains ... part of our categorical framework” (Pérez-Ramos, 1996, p. 311). Baconianism meant that his followers accepted, among other things, a belief in the institutionalization of science and the means of gathering, collating, and disseminating knowledge through planned and cooperative research; they also believed in technological solutions to social problems, not least if money could be made (Rees, 2000, p. 71). In other words, Bacon’s heritage was nothing less than the cultural acceptance of the growth of useful knowledge as a critical ingredient of economic growth.
Page 99 happens to be only half a page, closing a chapter on the significance of Francis Bacon and the "Baconian program" for the economic development of Europe. The last sentence gets to (some of) the essential message of the book.
Learn more about A Culture of Growth at the Princeton University Press.

The Page 99 Test: The Enlightened Economy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 4, 2016

Christian Lee Novetzke's "The Quotidian Revolution"

Christian Lee Novetzke is professor of religious studies, South Asia studies, and global studies at the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. He is the author of Religion and Public Memory: A Cultural History of Saint Namdev in India and coauthor, with William Elison and Andy Rotman, of Amar Akbar Anthony: Bollywood, Brotherhood, and the Nation.

Novetzke applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Quotidian Revolution: Vernacularization, Religion, and the Premodern Public Sphere in India, and reported the following:
From page 99:
The last lines of the inscription are particularly curious to note in relation to the outline of a concept of a public culture in these edicts. The inscription invokes the term Maratha. We have the word Maharashtra attested several decades earlier, in the Līḷācaritra and elsewhere, as a designation of place, the Marathi-speaking region, as we will see again in subsequent centuries. But here we have something more: a designation of place that is also a designation of social distinction. Here Maratha means more than just Maharashtrian, but instead also implies Marathi-speaking, and, by extension, devotee of Vitthal. It does not yet indicate a caste or jati, as it will in later centuries and as it does in the present. The final line equates the Maratha parivanda, or the Maratha devotee, with the Vitthal sevak, the servant of Vitthal. We find a direct correlation between being Maratha and serving Vitthal. To my knowledge, this is the first instance of a term —Maratha— that designates the people of Maharashtra as a social collective, a group beyond simply a language or geographic unit, but as a distinctive social group, made coherent by their shared worship, the shared bhakti, of Vitthal.  It reminds me of a line from Irawati Karve’s well-known essay about traveling with the Vitthal pilgrims in 1950. She wrote, “I found a new definition of Maharashtra: the land whose people go to Pandharpur for pilgrimage.” We now have a state-issued inscription that articulates a region, a polity, a language, and bhakti itself all intertwined around the idea of being Maratha, being Maharashtrian.
In thirteenth-century India, in the region of Maharashtra, a new vernacular literature emerged to challenge the hegemony of Sanskrit, a language largely restricted to men of high caste. This new Marathi literature inaugurated a public debate over the ethics of social difference grounded in the idiom of everyday life. The arguments of vernacular intellectuals pushed the question of social inclusion into ever-wider social realms, spearheading the development of a nascent premodern public sphere that valorized the quotidian world in sociopolitical terms. The Quotidian Revolution examines this pivotal moment of vernacularization in Indian religion, literature, and public life by investigating courtly donative Marathi inscriptions alongside the first extant texts of Marathi literature: the Lilacaritra (1278) and the Jñanesvari (1290). I revisit the influence of Chakradhar (c. 1194), the founder of the Mahanubhav religion, and Jnandev (c. 1271), who became a major figure of the Varkari religion, to observe how these avant-garde and worldly elites pursued a radical intervention into the social questions and ethics of the age. Drawing on political anthropology and contemporary theories of social justice, religion, and the public sphere, The Quotidian Revolution explores the specific circumstances of this new discourse oriented around everyday life and its lasting legacy: widening the space of public debate in a way that presages key aspects of Indian modernity and democracy.

On page 99, I’m trying to convince my reader that a Marathi public existed in Maharashtra before and during the advent of Marathi literature and so a Marathi public already existed and gave a place to grow to a Marathi literature. Here, I am showing how inscriptions composed by the waning Yadava Dynasty sought to portray their legacy as imbued with a “Maratha” ethos, which here means “being Maharashtrian,” speaking Marathi, but importantly having a devotion to the land where Marathi is spoken and where the Hindu deity Vitthal is worshipped as a personal deity—the term bhakti describes this kind of worship. In this swansong of empire, I notice how the Yadavas yearned to etch their names in history as upholders of regional pride and faith, and thus transfer the glory of their reign from their own names to that of the general, quotidian population they governed.
Learn more about The Quotidian Revolution at the Columbia University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Caroline Winterer's "American Enlightenments"

Caroline Winterer is Anthony P. Meier Family Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Humanities Center. The author of three previous books, she received an American Ingenuity Award from the Smithsonian Institution.

Winterer applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason, and reported the following:
This section of the book is called “The Calendar Stone, Symbol of the Enlightened Aztecs.” It starts like this:
Just as Clavigero’s Mexican history was suggesting the possibility of enlightenment in America, another ancient Mexican artifact came to light that added fuel to the debate about the future promise of the Americas for civilization. In 1790, workers in Mexico City lifted an elaborately carved twenty-four-ton basalt stone from the mud in the main plaza of the city. Buried sometime in the century after the Spanish conquest as a symbol of Indian idolatry, the basalt sculpture reemerged in the eighteenth century to become a cause célèbre around the Atlantic, igniting new theories about the sophisticated astronomical achievements of the early Mexicans. Called the piedra del sol (sun stone) in Spanish, the sculpture became known in English as the Aztec Calendar Stone. In the hands of its eighteenth-century Mexican and U.S. interpreters, the Aztec Calendar Stone became an example of what a modern anthropologist has called ‘the defining sample’: the single object that is believed to sum up a whole civilization.
The page 99 passage captures my two major arguments in American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason. First, by talking about the city-building, codex-writing Aztecs, it decenters our idea of what enlightenment in America was. Until now, accounts of “the American Enlightenment” have been centered on the American Revolution, and especially the thirteen colonies that became the United States. My book shows that many topics discussed by enlightened people were concerned with the New World generally; only a subset were specifically concerned with the political and economic disputes that led to the American Revolution. People living in the Americas liked to use the Aztecs as a rebuke to the popular European theory that all life forms—plants, animals, and people—degenerated in the allegedly cold and humid climate of the Americas. If the Aztecs could be enlightened, so could anyone living in the Americas.

Second, this passage helps to overturn what I call the “diffusionist” paradigm of enlightenment in America that historians have promoted since the World War II era. The diffusionist paradigm—which you can find in such justifiably influential books as Peter Gay’s The Enlightenment (2 vols., 1966, 1969) and Henry May’s The American Enlightenment (1976)—argued that the Enlightenment was invented in Europe and then “realized” or fulfilled in the United States. By contrast, the New World conversation about whether the Aztecs were enlightened or not shows that the populations of the New World pressed deeply on the central conversations of the Enlightenment. There were a number of conditions that were unique to the Americas in the eighteenth century: a large population of indigenous peoples; plantation-based chattel slavery; a colonial economic and political status; and, in British North America, a Protestant majority. These conditions were not incidental to enlightenment, but were rather central to both the European and American experience of what it meant to become enlightened. My book shows that we cannot understand enlightenment in Europe as a self-contained, autonomous process, with the imperial project tacked on as an afterthought. We have to consider the rest of the world as central to enlightenment discourses and processes.
Learn more about American Enlightenments at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Clifton Hood's "In Pursuit of Privilege"

Clifton Hood is professor of history at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He is the author of 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York (1993).

Hood applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, In Pursuit of Privilege: A History of New York City's Upper Class and the Making of a Metropolis, and reported the following:
Oddly, page 99 is representative of much of my entire book. It deals with a crucial moment in the history of New York City, when, as a result of tremendous urban economic growth in the first half of the nineteenth century, its upper class split into separate economic and social elites. I use a book by John Jacob Astor's grandson to define the values and practices of its social elite - whereas Astor himself had been the epitome of the unwashed nouveax riche.

As I do throughout, I put New York City into the context of other big American cities and conclude that its upper class was larger, richer, more dynamic, more ostentatious, and more powerful than urban elites elsewhere.
Learn more about In Pursuit of Privilege at the Columbia University Press.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Paul Staiti's "Of Arms and Artists"

Paul Staiti, Alumnae Foundation Professor of Fine Arts at Mount Holyoke College, is the author of books and essays on John Singleton Copley, Gilbert Stuart, Samuel F. B. Morse, William Michael Harnett, and Winslow Homer.

He has lectured at the Louvre, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and has been the recipient of senior fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities three times.

Staiti applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution through Painters' Eyes, and reported the following:
Ninety-nine is an interesting page. I’m in the midst of trying to explain the career of John Singleton Copley, the great artist of Colonial America, who moves to London in 1774, where he becomes famous for his blockbuster paintings Watson and the Shark (1778) and Death of the Earl of Chatham (1781). Two questions are on my mind: Why does Copley leave America on the eve of the Revolution? And, why, in 1782, after years of trying to avoid politics, does he start painting portraits of three American revolutionaries who are passing through London?

Regarding the first question, I go back to 1760s Boston. Copley is a masterful artist feeling confined in a provincial town. Bursting with ambition to be—and be recognized as—an artist in the mold of Raphael or Rubens, he dreams of breaking the “schackels” of America. Copley sends some paintings to London for critique from Joshua Reynolds and Benjamin West, two lions of the British school. In what amounted to a correspondence course, he hears lots of praise from them, but also the kinds of criticism that tell him what Boston is lacking. Move to London now, they advise, before “the Force of your Genius is weakened, and it may be too late for much Improvement.”

While that was transpiring, Boston is rupturing, the result of protests over the Stamp Act and Townshend Acts, followed by the Boston Massacre of 1770. In such a maelstrom, Copley craves peace, wishing life could go back to the way it was in 1760. He adopts a non-partisan stance in the growing contest between British government and American radicals, which becomes a high-wire act when he marries Susanna Clarke, the daughter of a Tory consignee for the British East India Company, the colossus of English commodities trade that ships a half million pounds of tea to America. In late 1773, after Bostonians hear the exhortations of Samuel Adams, about a hundred board Clarke’s tea ships and dump 342 casks into the harbor. Haunted by politics, exhausted by the turbulence, and tired of living in artistic isolation, the apolitical Copley boards ship for England in the summer of 1774, never to return.

Copley’s story is markedly different from the experiences of Charles Willson Peale of Philadelphia and John Trumbull of Connecticut, two contemporary artists (the subjects of five chapters) energized by the Revolution, both throwing themselves into war as military men as well as painters. Copley firmly feels art incompatible with war. But nonetheless he harbors political sentiments, however much he tries to disguise them. When warfare starts, Copley privately assures his wife that America will “conquer” Britain. He predicts that “all the power of Great Britain will not reduce Americans to obedience” and he further imagines that one day America will “emerge from her present Callamity and become a Mighty Empire.”

At the end of the war, Copley momentarily throws off his self-imposed restraint and paints three portraits of prominent American patriots: Henry Laurens, former president of the Continental Congress, just released from the Tower of London where he was a political prisoner; Elkanah Watson, an American merchant who ferried communiqués between the American congress and Benjamin Franklin in Paris; and John Adams, fresh from the successful conclusion of the Treaty of Paris. The departure was striking but does not last long. Copley is tempted to return to America in the 1790s, but in the end decides to finishes out his career in London.
Visit Paul Staiti's website.

--Marshal Zeringue