Stop by Book Culture this Saturday, November 2nd at 10:30 am for a viola performance by Jeffrey Ellenberger and a bagel breakfast. Come in before 1 o’clock to receive a free Book Culture gift.
Jeffrey Ellenberger studied at the Manhattan School of Music, with Raphael Bronstein and Erick Friedman. He has performed with New York City Opera, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and is concertmaster of the Bar Harbor Festival Orchestra. He has performed extensively in Maine with the Acadian Chamber Players, specializing in the string trio as well as flue and oboe quartet literature. In the spring of this year he will receive his masters degree in conducting from Rutgers University. He wishes to be historically accurate while bringing a modern sense of expressiveness and breadth to the music with the suites he is performing.
Keith Chapin and Andrew Clark present Speaking of Music
Join us on November 4th at 7pm for a discussion with Keith Chapin and Andrew Clark, editors of Speaking of Music: Addressing the Sonorous.
People chat about music every day, but they also treat it as a limit, as the boundary of what is sayable. By addressing different perspectives and traditions that form and inform the speaking of music in Western culture–musical, literary, philosophical, semiotic, political–this volume offers a unique snapshot of today’s scholarship on speech about music. The range of considerations and material is wide. Among others, they include the words used to interpret musical works (such as those of Beethoven), the words used to channel musical practices (whether Bach’s, Rousseau’s, or Hispanic political protesters’), and the words used to represent music (whether in a dialogue by Plato, a story by Balzac, or in an Italian popular song). The contributors consider the ways that music may slide by words, as in the performance of an Akpafu dirge or in Messiaen, and the ways that music may serve as an embodied figure, as in the writings of Diderot or in the sound and body art of Henri Chopin. The book concludes with an essay by Jean-Luc Nancy.
Keith Chapin is a lecturer at Cardiff University. He has published widely on issues of aesthetics and the history of music theory between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries, and has focused in particular on the aesthetics of counterpoint, the German musical appropriation of French literary classicism, and the music criticism of E. T. A. Hoffmann. Andrew Clark is Associate Professor of French and English Literature at Fordham University. He has published on Diderot, the Encyclopedie, and the history of the book, and has presented papers on De Lafayette, Mattheson, Diderot and Rousseau. He is the author of Diderot’s Part.
Laura Dolp, Associate Professor in Musicology at Montclair State University; Christopher GoGwilt, Professor of English Literature at Fordham University; and Jairo Moreno, Associate Professor in the Department of Music at the University of Pennsylania, will act as respondents.
This event is co-sponsored with the Fordham Program in Comparative Literature.
On November 6th at 7pm Book Culture welcomes back Marlene Lee, author of Rebecca’s Road, with illustrations by B. Lloyd.
Rebecca has always been looked after, cared for, shielded from the world; to avoid the realities Mother would take her shopping, and her parents built a wing of their house just for her. But now Mother is dead and Rebecca, fifty years old, wants to take one of those trips she and Mother had often talked about. So she bargains with her father for the trust money he is withholding and buys a motor home in which she sets off to learn about life, love, and the world beyond the family peach orchard; to see if there is a different Rebecca to be found along the way. In nine beautiful, humorous, and poignant stories, Marlene Lee traces the new life of Rebecca Quint as she takes her first steps along her own road.
Join us on November 7th at 7pm for a discussion with Andrew Demetre, author of Drinking and Driving in Urumqi.
An arresting, evocative travelogue, Drinking and Driving in Urumqi is the debut nonfiction book by American author Andrew Demetre. A spirit of adventure and nimble prose carry the reader through a sudden, precarious night out into the obfuscated culture of the riot-scarred capital of Xinjiang, China’s remotest province, as Demetre becomes the unmonitored, unofficial guest of a local family and Uyghur minority Chinese Communist Party members. Within a narrative mixing elements of memoir and reportage, the author balances a journalist’s eye for detail with the sensibilities of a novelist and captures an evocative portrait of a place, a time, and its characters-most notably the troubled mood and texture of the wounded city, along with a captivating depiction of Rihangul, a liberated Uyghur woman straddling disparate worlds.
Join us on November 12th at 7pm for a discussion with Christopher Peterson, author of Bestial Traces: Race, Sexuality, Animality.
In contemporary race and sexuality studies, the topic of animality emerges almost exclusively in order to index the dehumanization that makes discrimination possible. Bestial Traces argues that a more fundamental disavowal of human animality conditions the bestialization of racial and sexual minorities. Hence, when conservative politicians equate homosexuality with bestiality, they betray an anxious effort to deny the animality inherent in all sexuality.
Focusing on literary texts by Edgar Allan Poe, Joel Chandler Harris, Richard Wright, Philip Roth, and J. M. Coetzee, together with philosophical texts by Derrida, Heidegger, Agamben, Freud, and Nietzsche, Peterson maintains that the representation of social and political others as animals can be mitigated but never finally abolished. All forms of belonging inevitably exclude some others as “beasts.” Though one might argue that absolute political equality and inclusion remain desirable, even if ultimately unattainable, ideals, Bestial Traces shows that, by maintaining such principles, we exacerbate rather than ameliorate violence because we fail to confront how discrimination and exclusion condition all social relations.
Christopher Peterson teaches in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at the University of West Sydney. He has taught at the University of California (Davis, and Los Angeles), and Claremont McKenna College in California. Branka Arsic, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, will act as respondent.
Join us on November 14th at 7pm for a discussion with Dominique Townsend, author of The Weather and Our Tempers.
Rarely does a debut collection deliver so effortlessly on the promise of poetry as it is lived, offering its readers an intuitive musicality paired with careful observation and a certain stillness of mind. The voices in these poems somehow manage to be openly self-conscious while remaining expressive, deliberate, and measured. It’s as if Dominique Townsend feels altogether at home in whatever environment she finds herself, confident in her abilities to describe/unearth/translate from the temporal moment any universal experience it may contain, or explicate the emotional cathexis as generated by the human situation in which it resides. In these poems searching is an act of faith—but a wandering, hard-won faith, lived-in and inseparable from its discovery—where the fleeting is found to be necessary and worthy of our examination and praise. The Weather and Our Tempers offers a vision of a world exceptional as it is mundane, funny as it is tragic, a world that relies on our perception of it even as it changes our perception. It is a world that is rejuvenating, but always with death right there in the background, the sacrifice required for our recording: “something needs / to be offered up / for the sake of the story.” Here is a book that while relishing ideas, persons, objects—allowing each their own place and instance—simply cannot let things be.
Join us on November 15th at 7pm for a discussion with Rivvy Neshama, author of Recipes for a Sacred Life: True Stories and a Few Miracles.
When Rivvy Neshama was twenty-two and about to get married, her mother gave her a book of handwritten recipes that taught her how to make a good roast – but not much else. And no one gave her the recipe to make a good marriage or a good life. That took years of searching on a path with many turns.
Now, like a handwritten recipe book, Recipes for a Sacred Life is passing on the most meaningful and inspiring stories from the author’s life. From dancing to forgiving to walking at dawn, from a rabbi from Vienna to Irish Rita from the Bronx, they feature people and experiences that taught the author how to live a good life — one touched with sacredness. And, as it turned out, some of the best recipes came from her mom.
Written with heart and humor and steeped in ancient wisdom, these short, true tales reveal how ordinary encounters – with friends, nature, family, and strangers – can suddenly connect us with the sacred, adding love, joy, and purpose to our lives.
In the spirit of Anne Lamott, Mitch Albom, and Rachel Naomi Remen, Recipes for a Sacred Life is luminous and uplifting – a gift for all.
Join us for discussion on November 19th at 7 pm, with Mirta Ojtio, author of Hunting Season: Immigration and Murder in an all-American Town.
In November 2008, Marcelo Lucero, a thirty-seven-year-old undocumented Ecuadorean immigrant, was attacked and murdered by a group of teenagers as he walked the streets of the Long Island village of Patchogue accompanied by a childhood friend. The attackers were out “hunting for beaners.” Chasing, harassing, and assaulting defenseless “beaners”—their slur for Latinos—was part of their weekly entertainment, some of the teenagers later confessed. Latinos—primarily men and not all of them immigrants—have become the target of hate crimes in recent years as the nation wrestles with swelling numbers of undocumented immigrants, the suburbs become the newcomers’ first destination, and public figures advance their careers by spewing anti-immigration rhetoric.
Lucero, an unassuming worker at a dry cleaner’s, became yet another victim of anti-immigration fever. In the wake of his death, Patchogue was catapulted into the national limelight as this formerly unremarkable suburb of New York became ground zero in the war on immigration. In death, Lucero became a symbol of everything that was wrong with our broken immigration system: fewer opportunities to obtain visas to travel to the United States, porous borders, a growing dependency on cheap labor, and the rise of bigotry.
Drawing on firsthand interviews and on-the-ground reporting, journalist Mirta Ojito has crafted an unflinching portrait of one community struggling to reconcile the hate and fear underlying the idyllic veneer of their all-American town. With a strong commitment to telling all sides of the story, Ojito unravels the engrossing narrative with objectivity and insight, providing an invaluable look at one of America’s most pressing issues.
Mirta Ojito, a newspaper reporter since 1987, has worked for The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, and, from 1996 to 2002, for The New York Times, where she covered immigration, among other beats, for the Metro Desk. She has received numerous awards, including the American Society of Newspaper Editor’s writing award for best foreign reporting in 1999 for a series of articles about life in Cuba, and a shared Pulitzer for national reporting in 2001 for a New York Times series of articles about race in America. She is Assistant Professor in the Journalism School at Columbia University.
Join us on November 20th at 7pm for a discussion with Brenda Wineapple, author of Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877.
Dazzling in scope, Ecstatic Nation illuminates one of the most dramatic and momentous chapters in America’s past, when the country dreamed big, craved new lands and new freedom, and was bitterly divided over its great moral wrong: slavery.
With a canvas of extraordinary characters, such as P. T. Barnum, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, and L. C. Q. Lamar, Ecstatic Nation brilliantly balances cultural and political history: It’s a riveting account of the sectional conflict that preceded the Civil War, and it astutely chronicles the complex aftermath of that war and Reconstruction, including the promise that women would share in a new definition of American citizenship. It takes us from photographic surveys of the Sierra Nevadas to the discovery of gold in the South Dakota hills, and it signals the painful, thrilling birth of modern America.
An epic tale by award-winning author Brenda Wineapple, Ecstatic Nation lyrically and with true originality captures the optimism, the failures, and the tragic exuberance of a renewed Republic.
Brenda Wineapple’s other books include the award-winning White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Knopf 2008/Anchor Vintage 2009); a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award, a winner of the Washington Arts Club National Award for arts writing, and a New York Times “Notable Book” (2008); White Heat was also named best nonfiction of 2008 in The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, The Economist, among other publications. She is also the author of Genet: A Biography of Janet Flanner; Sister Brother Gertrude and Leo Stein; and Hawthorne: A Life, which received the Ambassador Award of the English-speaking Union for the Best Biography of 2003 and the Julia Ward Howe Prize from the Boston Book Club. She teaches in the MFA programs at The New School and Columbia University’s School of the Arts.
Join us on November 21st at 7pm for a discussion with Patricia Dailey, author of Promised Bodies: Time, Language, and Corporeality in Medieval Women’s Mystical Texts.
In the Christian tradition, especially in the works of Paul, Augustine, and the exegetes of the Middle Ages, the body is a twofold entity consisting of inner and outer persons that promises to find its true materiality in a time to come. A potentially transformative vehicle, it is a dynamic mirror that can reflect the work of the divine within and substantially alter its own materiality if receptive to divine grace.
The writings of Hadewijch of Brabant, a thirteenth-century beguine, engage with this tradition in sophisticated ways both singular to her mysticism and indicative of the theological milieu of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Crossing linguistic and historical boundaries, Patricia Dailey connects the embodied poetics of Hadewijch’s visions, writings, and letters to the work of Julian of Norwich, Hildegard of Bingen, Marguerite of Oingt, and other mystics and visionaries. She establishes new criteria to more consistently understand and assess the singularity of women’s mystical texts and, by underscoring the similarities between men’s and women’s writings of the time, collapses traditional conceptions of gender as they relate to differences in style, language, interpretative practices, forms of literacy, and uses of textuality.
Patricia Dailey is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She specializes in medieval literature and culture (English, Dutch, French, and Italian) and critical theory, focusing on women’s mystical texts, visions, Anglo-Saxon poetry and prose, medieval rhetoric, hermeneutics, and theology. Dailey will be joined by Amy Hollywood, Elizabeth H. Monrad Professor of Christian Studies at Harvard Divinity School, and Sarah S. Poor, Assistant Professor of German at Princeton University
On Friday, November 22nd at 7 pm, Book Culture is hosting a reading by Columbia University’s Our Word student literary group.
Our Word is a student organization open to any MFA student in the Columbia University School of the Arts Writing Program. Their goal is to promote diversity within the Writing Program and the literary community in general.
In 2000, a group of students wanted to promote cultural diversity and decided to organize. In order to make a convincing appeal, artist Victor Cerbantes staged a campus protest. He locked himself in a mock jail cell and fasted for five days in order to demonstrate the lack of attention for artists of color on campus. Since that time, OW has grown into a leading voice in the advancement of cultural diversity. They take their name from Nuestra Palabra, a Houston-based nonprofit dedicated to expanding literary territories.
OW supports writing students in their artistic development through various events and projects, such as their annual student reading, author residency series, and working with faculty to develop culturally diverse curricula. They try to keep in touch with past members, to make sure that our community continues long past graduation. With these initiatives, OW attempts to provide artists with opportunities to engage in meaningful cultural dialogue and take an active role in enriching education at the School of the Arts.