A History of Cookbooks: How New Products Entered Cookbooks

excerpted from A History of Cookbooks: From Kitchen to Page over Seven Centuries by Henry Notaker

This October we are celebrating National Cookbook Month by exploring the history of the cookbook genre. Check back each Wednesday for a new excerpt from Henry Notaker’s work.

A History of Cookbooks coverThere was a great difference between the various products in the way they were integrated. When people were confronted with the new foods, they compared them to existing and well-known food categories. The product that was most easily accepted was turkey—at least for those who could afford to buy it. This animal was not too different from the other big birds that had traditionally been served at the tables of the European elite. Turkey could be used as a substitute for peacock or capon and was prepared the same way. Meat from birds was also considered to be healthy, so it did not risk being criticized by doctors, as many of the other new foods were.

It is consequently no surprise that cookbooks with recipes for turkey were published in the first century after Columbus arrived in the New World. In 1570, the Italian Bartolomeo Scappi suggested the same preparation for turkey pullets and ordinary pullets, and he compared the cooking of turkey with that of peacock. A decade later, the German Marx Rumpolt proposed twenty different ways to prepare turkey, all of them well-established methods for other meats. A taste for turkey soon spread from the aristocracy to the wealthy bourgeoisie, and prices went down. In France in 1538, turkey meat cost eight times more than meat from hens; in 1711, it was only twice as much.

The tomato is an example of a new food that was slow to become part of European food culture. For a long time appreciated only as an ornamental plant, the tomato was mentioned as food around 1600 in an Italian botanical treatise. As was the case with turkey, the fruit was compared with well-known ingredients in the kitchen; the author of the text explained that tomatoes could be eaten the same way as eggplants—with salt, pepper, and oil. But the first professional recipe for the food did not come until 1692, when Antonio Latini’s Italian cookbook gave a preparation for salsa di pomodoro, alla spagnuola (tomato salsa, Spanish style). In Spain, tomatoes were not included in any cookbooks published before 1611. After that year, there is unfortunately a period in which no new Spanish cookbooks were published that lasted until 1745, when we find a recipe for tomato sauces with garlic and oil, typical of the Mediterranean food culture we know today.

Tomato recipes in Spanish and Italian cookbooks surprise nobody, since the fruit could be grown in these countries. The situation was completely different in northern Europe, where effective cultivation came only in the twentieth century. The first tomato recipes from this region were from the last decades of the nineteenth century, and they suggested using canned tomatoes in soups and sauces. One of the Russian cookbooks written by Elena Molokhovets called for tomato purée in soups in early editions published in the 1860s and only gradually introduced fresh tomato dishes. As late as 1896, Charles-Emil Hagdahl wrote in his gourmet cookbook that he regretted that tomatoes in Sweden were mainly sold in the form of bottles of purée, imported from abroad. In Norway, a cookbook from 1888 included a series of interesting tomato recipes, but the book actually demonstrates why general conclusions about diet never should be drawn on the basis of one cookbook. The author had spent several years in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), where tomatoes were common by that point, and her book was the only one of its kind. A decade later, another Norwegian author did not give any tomato recipes in the first edition of her cookbook, published in 1897, and in a later edition, issued in 1912, she remarked that “tomatoes are seldom appreciated the first time they are tasted,” and wrote that in Norway, “tomatoes are still very expensive.”


Notaker cookbook author photoHenry Notaker is a literary historian who taught courses in food culture and history for over a decade. He was a foreign correspondent for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and a TV host of arts and letters shows and documentaries. He is the author of numerous books and articles on European and Latin American contemporary history, food history, and culinary literature.


Copyediting Challenge

It’s no secret that copyediting jobs are changing. Just this past June, The New York Times dismantled its 100-plus-person copyediting staff, merging some of the job functions with other editorial duties. As traditional copyediting positions realign and hybrid roles grow, copyediting skills are needed more than ever to adapt to new platforms and in new venues.

To keep up with the times, UC Press is developing a fourth edition of our bestselling Copyeditor’s Handbook, scheduled to publish in April 2019, along with a companion Copyeditor’s Workbook, which will feature extensive exercises, answer keys, and commentary. Until then, this set of questions by the much-missed Amy Einsohn will test your mettle.

Are your copyediting skills up to snuff? Take the copyediting challenge below! Find the answer key and sample exercises here.

1. Fill in each blank with “into” or “in to.”
(a) She went ____ his office in order to check ____ the facts about the two men who turned
themselves ____ the police.
(b) When he wanted to stay up far ____ the night to stare ____ the sky, he got ____ an argument
with his mother.
(c) As he turned _____ the driveway, he misjudged his location and ran ____ the mailbox.
(d) They entered _____ a pact to jump ____ the lake and mysteriously turned ____ frogs.

2. Select the preferred form.
(a) The Department of ______ Affairs will hold hearings next week.
[Veteran, Veteran’s, Veterans, Veterans’]
(b) Large corporations—the Apples, the ______, and the Intels—can achieve significant
economies of scale.
[McDonalds, McDonald’s, McDonald’s’, McDonalds’es]
(c) In the book of Exodus, we read about ______ wrath.
[Moses’s, Moses’]
(d) She is five _____ pregnant; he took three ______vacation.
[months, month’s, months’]; [weeks, week’s, weeks’]

3. What is a resident of each of the following states called?
(a) Connecticut.
(b) Maine.
(c) Massachusetts.
(d) Wyoming.

4. In which of the following are the page ranges treated inconsistently?
(a) See pages 22–25, 100–102, and 105–109.
(b) See pages 22–5, 100–2, and 105–9.
(c) See pages 22–25, 100–102, and 105–9.
(d) See pages 22-25, 100-02, and 105-09.

5. Which of the following are trademarks?
(a) Dumpster
(b) Mace
(c) Styrofoam
(d) Tabasco
(e) Taser

6. The asterisk-dagger system is used to
(a) flag queries in a manuscript.
(b) order nonnumerical footnotes.
(c) indicate levels of confidence in statistics tables.
(d) alphabetize nonnumerical characters in an index.

7. When a numbered list is “cleared for 10s,” the numerals that precede the items
(a) are indented ten spaces.
(b) align on the first digit.
(c) align on the last digit.
(d) are deleted and replaced by bullets or another nonnumerical character.

8. The incorrect use of it’s is one of those errors that ______ many editors.
[exasperates/exasperate]

9. In Jefferson County one in five children ____ not covered by health insurance.
[is/are]

10. His proposals were routinely ignored by his _____ .
[co-workers, coworkers]

11. We have submitted _____ FOIA request.
[a, an]

12. _____ than one in six households in Mayberry will receive a tax rebate.
[Less, Fewer]

13. Let’s give a copy of The Copyeditor’s Handbook to _____ will be training the new editors.
[whoever, whomever]


How’d you do? Share your score with us on social media: #copyeditingchallenge @UCPress


Available Today: A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things

We live in precarious times. As we continue to step further into both our uncertain political climate and continuing late stage capitalist system, it is unclear both where we are headed and what things will look like in the near future.

Starting with Christopher Columbus and continuing through to the present day, Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore chart the history of our current economic system and suggest that it’s not too late to steer ourselves off of the increasingly capitalist and neoliberal path we are currently wandering down. Using the cheapening of seven key things—nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives—A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things shows how we made the world safe for capitalism and provides a radical new way of understanding—and reclaiming—the planet in our current turbulent times.

Read on to see what others have to say about the book, and use promo code 17W1863 to save 30% when you order the book on our website.


“Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore have transformed ‘cheapness’ into a brilliant and original lens that helps us understand the most pressing crises of our time, from hyper-exploitation of labor to climate change. As we come together to build a better world, this book could well become a defining framework to broaden and deepen our ambitions.”—Naomi Klein, author of No Is Not Enough and This Changes Everything

“It’s remarkably rare that authors manage to find a really useful new lens through which to view the world—but Patel and Moore have done just that, writing an eye-opening account that helps us see the startling reality behind what we usually dismiss as the obvious and everyday.”—Bill McKibben, author of Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance

“What a relief to read a bold, grand narrative of European colonialism/capitalism and its destruction of the environment as well as reducing whole civilizations to enslavement, impoverishment and ruin—just what is needed at this time to contextualize the many granular studies we now have access to. Patel and Moore have provided not only an elegantly written and insightful narrative, but also a path to imagine a noncapitalist future.”—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

“This book is a remarkable achievement: it makes the history of capitalism from Columbus to climate change into a page-turner. If you’ve been wondering how we got into this mess, what care work has to do with ecological crisis, why racism is intertwined with capitalism at the roots, Patel and Moore are the guides you need.”—Sarah Jaffe, author of Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt

Follow along with the rest of our #7CheapThings blog series here.


Congratulations to 2017 MacArthur Fellows Jason De Leon and Trevor Paglen

UC Press is proud to have two 2017 MacArthur Foundation “genius” award recipients on its publishing list. Congratulations Trevor Paglen and Jason De Leon, who are among the current crop of #MacFellow winners. Profiles of all the award winners, and the complete list of the 2017 class can be found here.

Trevor Paglen’s book, The Last Pictures, was published in 2012, and Jason de Leon’s book, The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail, was published in 2015.

The awards come with a no-strings-attached grant of $625,000, which is awarded over a five-year period. More information on the 2017 MacArthur Fellowship geniuses was published in an article in today’s New York Times.


National Coming Out Day: Important Moments in Queer History

Encompassing a number of historically important days, this October is set to remind both the LGBT and wider communities of the important roles lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have taken in creating the social, legal, and political worlds we live in today. This National Coming Out Day 2017 marks both the 29th anniversary of the day’s observance and the 30th anniversary of the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which called for President Ronald Reagan to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Check out important moments in queer history with these selected UC Press titles.


After Silence: A History of AIDS through Its Images
By Avram Finkelstein, available this November, pre-order now

After Silence is an important contribution to the history of AIDS activism. It tells the personal story of a key designer of a crucial political movement and demystifies how design decisions are made amidst political crisis. Compelling and potentially empowering to future visual activists.”—Sarah Schulman, author of The Gentrification of the Mind

Early in the 1980s AIDS epidemic, six gay activists created one of the most iconic and lasting images that would come to symbolize a movement: a protest poster of a pink triangle with the words “Silence = Death.” The graphic and the slogan still resonate today, often used—and misused—to brand the entire movement. Cofounder of the collective Silence = Death and member of the art collective Gran Fury, Avram Finkelstein tells the story of how his work and other protest artwork associated with the early years of the pandemic were created. In writing about art and AIDS activism, the formation of collectives, and the political process, Finkelstein reveals a different side of the traditional HIV/AIDS history, told twenty-five years later, and offers a creative toolbox for those who want to learn how to save lives through activism and making art.

Has the Gay Movement Failed?
By Martin Duberman, forthcoming June 2018

“Martin Duberman gets to the heart of what has gone wrong with the LGBT movement and why it has not fought for—or has even impeded—a comprehensive vision of freedom for everyone. Has the Gay Movement Failed? is his most challenging, provocative, and visionary book to date. An imperative read for anyone interested in a truly liberated queer future.”—Michael Bronski, author of A Queer History of the United States

The past fifty years have marked significant shifts in attitude toward and acceptance of LGBTQ people in the United States and the West. Yet the extent of this progress, argues Martin Duberman, has been more broad and conservative than deep and transformative. One of the most renowned historians of the American left and LGBTQ movement, as well as a pioneering social justice activist, Duberman reviews the fifty years since Stonewall with an immediacy and rigor that informs and energizes. He relives the early gay movement’s progressive vision for society as a whole and puts the Left on notice as having continuously failed to embrace the queer potential for social transformation. He acknowledges successes as some of the most discriminatory policies that plagued earlier generations were eliminated but highlights the costs as radical goals were sidelined for more normative inclusion. Illuminating the fault lines both within and beyond the movements of the past and today, this critical book is also hopeful: Duberman urges us to learn from this history to fight for a truly inclusive and expansive society.

Trans: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability
By Jack Halberstam, e-book available now

“This lively and smart book by Jack Halberstam offers a new way of approaching the politics of ‘naming, claiming, speech, silence, and protest.’ This is the treatise on the asterisks for which we have been waiting; it cracks open a future, resisting transphobia and ushering in a new horizon for anybody struggling with the norms they oppose and the forms of life they desire and deserve to live.”—Judith Butler, author of Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity

In the last decade, public discussions of transgender issues have increased exponentially. However, with this increased visibility has come not just power, but regulation, both in favor of and against trans people. What was once regarded as an unusual or even unfortunate disorder has become an accepted articulation of gendered embodiment as well as a new site for political activism and political recognition. What happened in the last few decades to prompt such an extensive rethinking of our understanding of gendered embodiment? How did a stigmatized identity become so central to U.S. and European articulations of self? And how have people responded to the new definitions and understanding of sex and the gendered body? In Trans*, Jack Halberstam explores these recent shifts in the meaning of the gendered body and representation, and explores the possibilities of a nongendered, gender-optional, or gender-queer future.

Lavender and Red: Liberation and Solidarity in the Gay and Lesbian Left
By Emily K. Hobson

“Hobson succeeds in painting a rich portrait of a vibrant gay and lesbian left that flourished in the Bay Area in the 1970s and 1980s and saw itself as connected to the international left… the book has certainly made me rethink the way I write and teach LGBT history and has added some very necessary complications to that standard narrative.”—Daily Kos

LGBT activism is often imagined as a self-contained struggle, inspired by but set apart from other social movements. Lavender and Red recounts a far different story: a history of queer radicals who understood their sexual liberation as intertwined with solidarity against imperialism, war, and racism. This politics was born in the late 1960s but survived well past Stonewall, propelling a gay and lesbian left that flourished through the end of the Cold War. The gay and lesbian left found its center in the San Francisco Bay Area, a place where sexual self-determination and revolutionary internationalism converged. Across the 1970s, its activists embraced socialist and women of color feminism and crafted queer opposition to militarism and the New Right. In the Reagan years, they challenged U.S. intervention in Central America, collaborated with their peers in Nicaragua, and mentored the first direct action against AIDS. Bringing together archival research, oral histories, and vibrant images, Emily K. Hobson rediscovers the radical queer past for a generation of activists today.

The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination
By Sarah Schulman

“The book that’s inspired me more than any other this year… a razor-sharp memoir of New York in the heyday of the AIDS crisis.”—Jason King, Slate

“Schulman is brilliant at conveying how devastating and surreal it was to live during the AIDS crisis… [the book is] teeming with ideas, necessary commentary, refreshing connections and examination of the status quo.”Lambda Literary

In this gripping memoir of the AIDS years (1981–1996), Sarah Schulman recalls how much of the rebellious queer culture, cheap rents, and a vibrant downtown arts movement vanished almost overnight to be replaced by gay conservative spokespeople and mainstream consumerism. Schulman takes us back to her Lower East Side and brings it to life, filling these pages with vivid memories of her avant-garde queer friends and dramatically recreating the early years of the AIDS crisis as experienced by a political insider. Interweaving personal reminiscence with cogent analysis, Schulman details her experience as a witness to the loss of a generation’s imagination and the consequences of that loss.

An Archive of Hope: Harvey Milk’s Speeches and Writings
By Harvey Milk, Edited by Jason Edward Black &Charles E. Morris

“An extremely important, timely, and significant book. Full of inspiration and hope, this book is highly relevant to anyone interested in activism, politics, and social change.” —Gust A. Yep, Professor of Communication Studies, San Francisco State University

Harvey Milk was one of the first openly and politically gay public officials in the United States, and his remarkable activism put him at the very heart of a pivotal civil rights movement reshaping America in the 1970s. An Archive of Hope is Milk in his own words, bringing together in one volume a substantial collection of his speeches, columns, editorials, political campaign materials, open letters, and press releases, culled from public archives, newspapers, and personal collections.

 


A History of Cookbooks: American Cookbooks and National Identity

excerpted from A History of Cookbooks: From Kitchen to Page over Seven Centuries by Henry Notaker

This October we are celebrating National Cookbook Month by exploring the history of the cookbook genre. Check back each Wednesday for a new excerpt from Henry Notaker’s work.

A History of Cookbooks coverIn 1776, many years before the aforementioned European nations started to fight for independence, a new independent country had been created in North America: the United States. After the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolutionary War, a growing national consciousness was observed among the inhabitants of the nascent state. This new patriotism was strengthened by new national symbols; before the turn of the century, the United States had a flag, the Great Seal, and a national bird, the bald eagle. The first cookbook written by an American is also from this period: American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons, was published in 1796. The subtitle claimed that the book was “adapted to this country.” There are recipes for Independence Cake and Federal Pan Cake, but more important is the use of indigenous foodstuffs, such as corn, squash, and Jerusalem artichoke.

The language of the book has many interesting features. For example, it introduced several Americanisms that had not yet been referred to in American dictionaries. One of them was “slapjack” (a corn pancake), a word probably based on a misreading of the English “flapjack”; at the time, the f and the long s (∫) were very similar in print. The book was also the first to use two words borrowed from Dutch: “cookey,” from the Dutch koekje, used for what English cookbooks called “little cakes,” and “slaw” from the Dutch sla, meaning “salad.”

The author—of whom we know nothing more than we can read in the book—presented herself on the title page as “An American Orphan.” Why did she give this peculiar biographical information? Some scholars have interpreted it as a national metaphor. The author had to support herself without any help from a parent, just as the United States needed to survive without England. If this interpretation is correct, the book is an even stronger proof of national attitudes.

It should be mentioned that not all the recipes in Simmons’s book are American. She included traditional English recipes, many of them taken verbatim from English books. But the American recipes in Simmons’s book were noticed by both readers and publishers; in the following years, new editions of old English books were printed with the addition of American recipes, many of them taken directly from American Cookery. The title of her book also heralded a period when the American angle was emphasized. In the years leading up to the Civil War, more than twenty cookbooks used the word “American” in their titles: for example, The American Housewife, American Domestic Cookery, American Receipt Book, and Modern American Cookery.

The United States was a society dominated by immigrants from many European countries, and one of the characteristics of cookbook publishing, like other fields of publishing, was the high number of books in languages other than English. The first French cookbook in the United States was published in 1840, the first Spanish in 1845, and the first German (Pennsylvania Dutch) in 1848, and they were followed by cookbooks in Italian, Yiddish, and Scandinavian languages, mirroring the country’s different immigrant groups. Some of the books were printed in two languages—for example, Yiddish and English, or French and English.

Most cookbooks in foreign languages catered to large immigrant groups who wanted to preserve their culinary heritage, but there were also foreign-language cookbooks with a very different intention. A particular genre consisted of works with recipes written in two parallel columns, one in American English and the other in Danish, Swedish, or Finnish. They were meant to help American housewives communicate with their Scandinavian servants—of which there were a large number in the United States around 1900. The housewife would point out the dish she wanted prepared (the dishes in these books were American, not Scandinavian), and the servant would then use the cookbook as a manual for cooking in addition to as a textbook for the English language.


Notaker cookbook author photoHenry Notaker is a literary historian who taught courses in food culture and history for over a decade. He was a foreign correspondent for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and a TV host of arts and letters shows and documentaries. He is the author of numerous books and articles on European and Latin American contemporary history, food history, and culinary literature.


#7CheapThings: Cheap Care

excerpted from A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore

Welcome to the fourth post in our #7CheapThings blog series! Raj Patel & Jason W. Moore’s A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things focuses on seven areas that are the foundation of modern commerce: nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives. How has the cheapening of these things made the world safe for capitalism? Follow along to find out.

“As we come together to build a better world, this book could well become a defining framework to broaden and deepen our ambitions.”—Naomi Klein

#7CheapThings care book cover

There’s no set way for humans to take care of one another. The extraordinary diversity of community forms and population dynamics in human history underscores the point. At every turn, systems of tending to, caring for, and reproducing human life are connected with extrahuman natures. This existential connection not only encompasses the material and biological but extends to our belief systems and modes of thought. Every rite of passage, every springtime fertility ritual, from maypoles to bloodletting, signals the range of ways that human and extrahuman life form through each other. But when we talk of reproductive labor under capitalism, we’re referring to a very specific set of arrangements, ones that were rearranged through world-ecology and persist today. Under these arrangements, some humans were confined to new political, social, and ecological units—households—the better to engage in care work in capitalism’s ecology. Call this the Great Domestication.

Consider what appear to be entirely independent sets of observations. The Pew Research Center’s 2010 International Attitudes Project received a range of responses to the statement “When jobs are scarce, men should have more right to a job than women.” In Iceland, 3.6 percent of people agreed, but in Egypt 99.6 percent did. Why the difference? The easy explanations are culture, religion, tradition, income level. Yet a study in the prestigious Quarterly Journal of Economics points the finger at none of these things. Examining data over the past two hundred years, controlling for everything from religion to war to the presence of oil, the authors found that somehow, across a range of countries, a key factor associated with gender inequality is the introduction of a specific agricultural technology: the plough. Individuals who grow up in a society with a tradition of using ploughs aren’t just more likely to perpetuate gender inequality at home—it even sticks with them when they migrate. Like good economists, the study’s authors haven’t a clue why. It’s clear that problems of gender, inequality, and discrimination wouldn’t disappear if we were now to replace ploughs with some other agricultural technology. The deeper challenge is understanding not just how a particular way of tilling the soil comes to naturalize divisions between men and women but what might be done to move toward equality.

So why might a farming implement ancient enough to be depicted in 2600 bce Egyptian hieroglyphics be responsible for twenty-first-century chauvinism? At the sixteenth-century frontier in what is now Peru, the chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega reported something that might solve the plough-sexism conundrum. Indigenous People widely viewed the domestication and then harnessing of oxen as bizarre behavior, both for its interruption of the order of nature and for what it said about the domesticators. The Indigenous explanation was that the Spanish were too lazy to till the land themselves and had to train animals to do it for them while they sat around picking food from their teeth. The Spanish were also considered odd because of the land they chose to farm and the way they occupied it. Colonialists preferred the relatively flat plains for their haciendas, while Indigenous People embraced the terracing technologies that can still be seen in and around Cuzco. You can’t plough a steep hillside that everyone owns—physics and social convention both exert strong forces against it. It’s much easier to plough on large, contiguous, privately owned haciendas. In other words, it wasn’t just the plough that was odd—it was the constellation of transformations in work, relations to extrahuman life, and property into which the plough fit. And central to those ideas were newly forming ones around animal and human domestication.

The modern household and its membership have their origins in ecological changes in European capitalism. In The Working Lives of Women in the Seventeenth Century, Alice Clark argues that the nuclear household of husband, wife, and children emerged through shifts in the economic geography of care and production on the commons. Recall that women’s work on the commons included fuel gathering and gleaning, which made subsistence possible and sometimes provided a marketable surplus. If anything went wrong, social insurance came from networks of support—religious, personal, social—across the community. These arrangements were incompatible with the kinds of agricultural innovation that brought about the widespread use of the plough: larger and larger enclosed landholdings, monocultures, exclusive private property arrangements, and the creation of a workforce motivated by the threats of starvation and imprisonment.

Enclosure made it impossible for peasants to survive on their meager landholdings. Peasants became wageworkers forced to sell their labor to survive. This also set women and men into competition in the labor market. With the commons, dairying had been a way for women to engage in agriculture, sustaining the household through milk and dairy sales. Without a commons, no cattle could be grazed. The market for dairying skills became tight—sheep’s wool was far more lucrative than cows’ milk, and shearing was gendered as men’s work. Women were required only for the paid work of milking and calving cows in the spring. Spring ploughing and autumnal harvesting involved heavier labor and were also often coded as men’s work. This division of labor led to different prices for men’s and women’s employment. It is in the fields that we find the origins of today’s global wage gap, a phenomenon in which relations with nature were involved from the beginning.


Raj Patel care author photoRaj Patel is an award-winning writer, activist and academic. He is a Research Professor in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin and a Senior Research Associate at the Unit for the Humanities at Rhodes University. He is the author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System and The Value of Nothing.

Jason W. Moore author photo careJason W. Moore teaches world history and world-ecology at Binghamton University, and is coordinator of the World-Ecology Research Network. He is the author of several books, including Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital, and numerous award-winning essays in environmental history, political economy, and social theory.


The Psychological Damage of Solitary Confinement

“When I testify in court, I am often asked: ‘What is the damage of long-term solitary confinement?’ . . . Many prisoners emerge from prison after years in solitary with very serious psychiatric symptoms even though outwardly they may appear emotionally stable. The damage from isolation is dreadfully real.”
—Terry Allen Kupers, author of Solitary: The Inside Story of Supermax Isolation and How We Can Abolish It

For World Mental Health Day, we recognize the prisoners who serve time in solitary confinement. When people discuss mass incarceration, the mental and emotional health of prisoners may not always be at the forefront of discussions. #MentalHealthDay

Terry Allen Kupers, one of the nation’s foremost experts on the mental health effects of solitary confinement, shares his role in exposing the effects of solitary confinement on incarcerated people. In a recent interview with Colorlines, Kupers says, “I testify about inhumane and unconstitutional conditions of confinement… After I have done my investigation, the county or state’s attorneys depose me under oath. Some large class actions are settled at that point. Some go to trial, and then I testify in court as a psychiatric expert. After I describe unconstitutional and abusive conditions and practices, I am asked what remedies I would recommend, and that’s when I have an opportunity to share with the judge or jury the proven effective alternatives to prison crowding and solitary confinement.”

On Rising Up with Sonali, Kupers describes the detrimental impact of solitary confinement on the human brain. Kupers notes that isolation “very much damages brain structure and lays down pathways that cause dysfunction.” And for those incarcerated people with existing mental illness, “isolation exacerbates their mental illness, makes their prognosis much worse, makes their disability greater, and in the end, they get out of prison unable to function in the community.”

Read an excerpt of Solitary. And share your thoughts below in the comments section on the mental well-being of incarcerated people in solitary confinement.


Women Can’t Win: Ongoing Offensives against Maternal and Reproductive Health

By Miranda Waggoner, author of The Zero Trimester: Pre-Pregnancy Care and the Politics of Reproductive Risk

In late July of this year, the Republican-led Senate’s attempt to repeal Obamacare failed rather dramatically, punctuated by John McCain’s widely discussed—and widely viewed—thumbs-down vote. More recently, another Republican-led attempt at repeal, known as the Graham-Cassidy proposal, again disintegrated due to lack of support from several key GOP senators. For at least the foreseeable future, the spirit of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act seems here to stay, but this development does not mean that women and mothers in America are safeguarded from having key components of their health care—or dignity—stripped away.

For some time now, opponents of Obamacare have vehemently targeted family planning services, as witnessed by the Trump administration’s recent expansion of religious exemptions for contraceptive coverage. But, at the same time, GOP lawmakers have also argued that maternity care services are not “essential.” This two-pronged hostility—pointedly disregarding both maternity care and general reproductive health care—is somewhat curious because maternity care has characteristically been considered politically “safe,” while reproductive care—in its association with contraception and abortion—has been deemed politically “toxic.” I trace the trajectory of these two reproductive silos in my book, The Zero Trimester. I show how health-care professionals have sought to expand the time period of a healthy pregnancy from the typical nine months to twelve months, by creating a “zero trimester” period during which women are defined as “pre-pregnant.” In doing so, non-pregnant women’s health care is defined in terms of maternity care. The rise of the “zero trimester” was in part predicated on the assumption that policy makers care about mothers and babies—that they are in the “safe” zone. Yet, in a political environment that does not value maternity care or reproductive care, such an approach seems destined to fail.

This approach is also unfair to women. The thrust of “zero trimester” initiatives promoted by health professionals and government agencies has been public-service announcements and health campaigns aimed at alerting individual women who are of reproductive age that they inhabit a perpetual zero trimester, and must act “responsibly.” One of the most controversial of these messages was the 2016 announcement by the CDC that all women of reproductive age not using birth control should avoid alcohol.

How can we best navigate a political climate that is hostile to maternity care but that simultaneously tends to define women by their maternal capacity? Taking away women’s health care services is obviously not a step in the right direction, but neither are individual-level recommendations to women that make them feel guilty about their everyday behaviors. Comprehensive health care coverage for all potential reproducers—both women and men—across their life course is one important piece of the solution to improve health, especially maternal and child health, in America. Policies that enhance population health, such as paid parental leave or reducing toxic pollution, would also spur vast and positive change in maternal and child health in particular. The stakes are high: women in the U.S. continue to die of birth-related complications at a much higher rate than do women in other rich nations, and babies in the U.S. are more likely to die in their first year than in comparable countries.

If we cease working toward social policies that value the health of all citizens—of women and men, of mothers and fathers, and of babies and children—the most fitting image for the state of health care in this country will continue to be a thumbs-down.


Miranda R. Waggoner is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Florida State University. Her research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.


Listening in, hearing back

by Seth Brodsky, author of From 1989, or European Music and the Modernist Unconscious


I’ve been thinking a lot about the categories historians rely upon, and their strange mix of power and precariousness—all the more so when music is involved. So I wanted to point to what I think is the most precarious (and yes, maybe the most powerful) category in my book From 1989, or European Music and the Modernist Unconscious. It’s that last word: unconscious.

Cover image for From 1989

I agree with psychoanalyst Jacques-Alain Miller that the matter of the unconscious ultimately comes down to a question of faith—which is to say, something that doesn’t necessarily belong in a history. As Miller puts it: “Do you believe—or not—in the existence of the unconscious? Of something more or less like what Freud called the unconscious?” Freud’s most schematic account of the unconscious, from 1915, makes clear he’s not talking about some personal cellar of the mind. He’s talking about something that is, still today, is very difficult for culture to digest: a site of self where all the acts and manifestations which I notice in myself and do not know how to link up with the rest of my mental life must be judged as if they belonged to someone else …” If the unconscious is a cellar, it’s not your cellar—but it’s still in your house.

This suggestive power would seem to disqualify the psychoanalytic unconscious as a foundation for serious history writing. We sit now on a century of various histories-of-spirit, psycho-biographies, and highbrow hack-jobs masquerading as hermeneutics-of-suspicion, all fueled by the roaring irrefutability of the Freudian unconscious. Ironically, the latest entry is from the career Freud-basher Frederick Crews, who does nothing less—I don’t think I’m exaggerating!—than reveal how Freud’s unconscious desires invalidate his entire project.

I’m a believer in the unconscious—the unconscious in general, as an unprovable but dynamic element of individual psychic life and collective social life. But in relation to music history, I felt a strong urge to contain my engagement with it; I’m not especially interested in psycho-biography and with the allegedly “whole person”; in dealing with the work especially of living composers, I wanted to avoid getting too far in their heads. I wanted to stay more in their ears—to try, paraphrasing Freud, to hear all the acts and manifestations” in their musical life that could be “judged as if they belonged to someone else.” The 1989 project hence began as a robustly intertextual one, a way of re-organizing an otherwise meaninglessly organized field—say, the alphabetized list of all works written and premiered around 1989—according to the axiom of a contained otherness: incorporated, repressed, misrecognized, flaunted. My first attempts (below) were crude; they owed something to Freud’s Rome, imagining the year as an archeological site literally resting atop its own sedimented musical history.

I was struck by the existence of actual canonical strata—a Bach layer, a Schubert or Beethoven layer, even a Liszt layer. Were these evidence of something coherent, consistent beyond the mere invocation of a common name and corpus? Beyond any of the resulting book’s successes and failures, I still think this intertextual paradigm is the most promising, the most catholic: what, after all, is more embracing than the question of what newer music has done to be-or-not-be older music? Music history as a millennial game of telephone, the noisiness of reception. How might new music histories be histories, not just of hearing, but mishearing? And how might the history of a long musical modernism—of music trying very hard to be new, modern, modo, now—intensify this process, making mis-hearings and missed encounters the very paradigm of musical desire? A desire for less signal and more noise.

These questions eventually led me to organize European new music in 1989 through an series of “heterotopian networks,” (above) in which intertextual and thematic coincidences yielded webs of works all linked by some other music. The newer work became what Michel Foucault called a heterotopia, an “other space”—radically autonomous, but actually existing —in which older music was misheard, reconfigured, or, in the book’s eventual concept-metaphor, analyzed, not unlike a patient in a psychoanalytic clinic. These networks, eventually formalized, ranged from fairly objective—a group of six “Schubert” pieces, say—to quite subjective—a group of works all dealing with non-existent places, u-topoi, and which I labeled “nowheres.” And each of these networks was themselves a kind of Freudian Rome.

The “Lyric Suites” network, for instance, grouped a series of otherwise very different string quartets that all had some connection to song—but a repressed or stifled song, hidden or encrypted, sung sotto voce or at night, to lost time or lost communities and persons, or to the dead. Emergent nodes began to quilt the otherwise proliferating associations in place: Luigi Nono’s 1980 quartet Fragmente—Stille, an Diotima, Alban Berg’s Lyrische Suite from 1926, Ludwig van Beethoven’s late quartets from a century before that. In one case, a thread emerged leading from the sixteen-note “shadow song” near the end of Helmut Lachenmann’s Second String Quartet from 1989; to the “broken song” from Nono’s Fragmente, quoting a 15th-century chanson; to the “hidden song,” setting a Baudelaire poem, that Berg encrypted in the last movement of his Suite; to the “failed song” that the first violin stutters in the famous “beklemmt” section from the Cavatina in Beethoven’s Op. 130.

Graphic of the “Lyric Suites” network

Such threads are what helped convince me to take a psychoanalytic account of musical modernism as more than mere heuristic. From the beginning of Freud’s formalizations, the psychoanalytic unconscious has experienced its own repressions, none more intense and persistent than of its radical negativity. To take one famous example, the “Oedipus complex” is on the one hand a way of accounting for a network of repressed fantasies and fears that seem to mark many people in early childhood. But it soon became a means of repression—repression of the cavernous uncertainties still plaguing patients otherwise convinced, fruitlessly, that they were suffering from Oedipus complexes; repression, on the part of the child, of their own cavernous uncertainty about where they stood in relation to others. This other unconscious is not a positive content to unearth, pin down, expose, judge; rather, it is a persisting negative, unavailable to the psyche that suffers it. For Freud, and for Lacan after him, this unconscious was a fundamentally intersubjective affair, and, more importantly for music, an auditory one. It involved listening, not for proof, but for evidence and testimony; it required an auditor who can hear what consistently fails to give voice to itself. This is where I ended From 1989: trying to listen to failed voices. I asked if musical modernism is not, in some sense, what psychoanalysis sounds like when it wanders into the concert hall. Or, more pointedly, if psychoanalysis is what musical modernism sounds like when it enters the disenchanting space of the clinic.


Seth Brodsky is Associate Professor of Music and the Humanities at the University of Chicago.