Best of the Blog 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, we’ve compiled ten blog posts that resonated most with our readers over the past year. Popular blog themes closely mirrored current events, and the state of global political realities — immigration, inequality, fascism, and environmental issues; additionally, readers were taken by posts on critical thinking, “slow” cinema, indigenous and world poetry, and the secrets unearthed from an ancient metropolis.

Have a happy new year, and see you in 2018, the 125th year of UC Press’s founding!

Immigration historians from across the United States launched the website #ImmigrationSyllabus to help the public understand the historical roots of today’s immigration debates, inspiring us to follow suit with a list of UC Press suggestions to provide further context to the ongoing conversation. View the Immigration Syllabus: UC Press Edition.

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. In this excerpt, find out how the cheapening of care has made the world safe for capitalism: #7CheapThings: Cheap Care

In Trump’s Transgender Crisis, Jack Halberstam, author of Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability, responds to Donald Trump’s tweeted policy change banning trans soldiers from the military to ask: at a time when the visibility and acceptance of transgender people has never been higher, why this ban, why now?

In today’s fast-paced political news cycle, terms like “fascism” and “populism” are often used, but not always clearly defined. This excerpt from Federico Finchelstein’s From Fascism to Populism in History, explores the origins of these ideologies, their significance, and the important distinctions between them: Fascism or Populism? Playing the “Democratic Game”

One of the earliest, largest, and most important cities in the ancient Americas, Teotihuacan is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited archaeological site in Mexico. Take a Look at Teotihuacan to see some of the rare and awe-inspiring artifacts featured in the exhibition and accompanying catalogue Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire.

 

Fifty years since its original publication, Jerome Rothenberg’s Technicians of the Sacred continues to inspire and educate readers with its ability to expand the possibilities of poetry throughout the world. Rothenberg recently visited the UC Press offices to discuss the book’s enduring power and read from the 50th anniversary edition.

 

 

Peter M. Nardi, sociologist and author of Critical Thinking: Tools for Evaluating Research, addressed the importance of looking beyond the “two-sides-of-the-coin” perspective when responding to complex issues in his post False Balance, Binary Discourse, and Critical Thinking.

Releasing in May 2018, Paul Schrader’s seminal text Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer will be reissued with a substantial new introduction representing his experiences and ideas as a filmmaker that have evolved over time, giving the original work both new clarity and a contemporary lens. Hear Schrader discuss some of the techniques and attitudes of slow films in Transcendental Style in Film Revisited.

During the 2017 International Open Access Week, we interviewed Interim Director Erich van Rijn to survey the landscape of OA publishing at UC Press, discussing the progress and future of Luminos (our OA monograph program), and Collabra: Psychology and Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene (our two OA journals).

What is a case study, and how can case studies positively impact critical thinking and knowledge acquisition, as well as inform research in academia and training in professional practice? In the post The Case for Case StudiesCase Studies in the Environment Editor-in-Chief Wil Burns explains what case studies are, and how they can provide an important bridge to understanding important environmental issues.


Behind the Iconic Protest Posters of the AIDS Activist Movement

By Avram Finkelstein, author of After Silence: A History of AIDS through Its Images

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.” Here, Avram Finkelstein, cofounder of the collective Silence = Death and member of the art collective Gran Fury, reveals the process behind some of the most iconic protest artwork associated with the early years of the pandemic. #WorldAidsDay#DayWithoutArt.


Silence = Death, The Silence = Death Project, 1986 poster, offset lithography, 33 1/2 × 22 in.

In 1981, the man I was building my life around started showing signs of immunosuppression, before AIDS even had its name. By 1984, he was dead, a year before Rock Hudson was outed by the disease and died, and years before Reagan ever uttered the word.

It was a time I felt very alone, so in late 1985 I co-founded a men’s consciousness raising group with five friends. We met every week, loosely assembled around feminist organizing principles. We began each session by talking about our new lives in the age of AIDS, but by the end of every meeting we were talking about the political crisis that was forming.

Because of my upbringing, the political poster had always played a role in my understanding of social change, but to be young in the late 1960s was to be political anyway. By 1968, the East and West Villages in New York were papered with manifestos, meetings announcements, and demonstration flyers. When young people needed to communicate with each other, we used the streets.

So I proposed we do a poster about AIDS.

We worked on the poster for months, and put it to bed in late 1986. I had no idea what might happen, but I knew we couldn’t be the only ones who were enraged. We weren’t. Within weeks of our posting them in early 1987, the activist community it came to represent formed, ACTUP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power).

AIDSGATE, The Silence = Death Project, 1987 poster, offset lithography, 34 × 22 in.

AIDSGATE was the second poster by the Silence=Death collective, designed specifically for the third ACT UP demonstration, a June 1, 1987 action in Washington DC. It was the first national civil disobedience addressing AIDS, which we saw as a unique opportunity to formally indict Reagan for his lack of response during the early days of the crisis, and its disproportionate impact on women and communities of color. The text crawl across the bottom of the poster reads: “54% of people with AIDS in NYC are Black or Hispanic… AIDS is the No. 1 killer of women between the ages of 24 and 29 in NYC… By 1991, more people will have died of AIDS than in the entire Vietnam War. What is Reagan’s real policy on AIDS? Genocide of all Non-Whites, Non-males and Non-heterosexuals?… Silence=Death.”

When collective member, Oliver Johnston (1952-1990), was finalizing the mechanical for the printer, he unilaterally decided Reagan didn’t look evil enough, and made his eyes hot pink. I’m convinced it is the sole reason this poster was included in the 2012 Metropolitan Museum of Art Andy Warhol exhibition, Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years. 

The Government Has Blood on Its Hands, Gran Fury, 1988, poster, offset lithography, 31 3/4 × 21 3/8 in.

On July 19th, 1988, the New York City Commissioner of Health, Stephen Joseph, suddenly halved the number of estimated AIDS cases in NYC, a move that threatened to drastically reduce funding for AIDS services. The cut was purportedly based on cohort studies in San Francisco’s gay community.

ACT UP NY declared war against him. During a sit-in at Joseph’s office a copy of his itinerary was taken, and it became the basis for a campaign spearheaded by an ACT UP affinity group. Several Gran Fury members were involved in the effort to remove Joseph from office, myself included, leading Gran Fury to design a pair of posters featuring bloody handprint images. One read “You’ve Got Blood On Your Hands Stephen Joseph. The Cut In AIDS Numbers Is A Lethal Lie,” and the other targeted then mayor of New York City with the text, “You’ve Got Blood On Your Hands, Ed Koch. NYC AIDS Care Doesn’t Exist.”

That same year, ACT UP decided to target the regulatory agency responsible for the testing of potential AIDS therapies in the US, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Given the high and rapid mortality rate, it had become clear that any risks the medications carried could not exceed the risks of non-intervention, and that the clinical trails for the safety and efficacy of these drugs were de facto healthcare for individuals confronting the fatal disease.

Gran Fury, nationalized the bloody hand specifically for the FDA action the statistic “One AIDS Death Every Half Hour.” The FDA action was the turning point for the AIDS activist movement, leading to the streamlining of the drug approval process, the parallel track drug access and compassionate use protocols, and the inclusion of People Living With HIV/AIDS, people of color, and women on research advisory boards.


Avram Finkelstein is a founding member of the Silence = Death and Gran Fury collectives. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the New Museum, and the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

His book, After Silence: A History of AIDS through Its Images , is available 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

“This book is essential for understanding the politics of resistance and the impact of ACT UP in building a movement. After Silence will be an invaluable resource for artists and activists of all ages.”— Ken Gonzales-Day, Professor of Art, Scripps College


Celebrating Wayne Thiebaud: With Cake (and Ice Cream and More)

“It could be considered further satire to use a conservative technique to attempt subversion. It could also be thought having and eating your cake.”—Donald Judd on Wayne Thiebaud, 1962

Today is Wayne Thiebaud’s birthday. Luckily he’s provided the cake, and ice cream, and so much more to celebrate with . . . in our forthcoming catalogue.

Organized in close cooperation with the artist, Wayne Thiebaud: 1958–1968 examines Thiebaud’s ongoing impact on contemporary art through in-depth analysis of the paintings and drawings made at the launch of his career, at a seminal moment when the art world was redefining itself.

Cover image of catalogue
Wayne Thiebaud: 1958–1968 (Available December 2017)

Published in association with the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at the University of California, Davis, this is the first study of the emergence of Thiebaud’s mature style and the only museum exhibition to date to delve into a specific period of his production, a time that coincides with the start of his teaching career at University of California at Davis.

The “soft” nature of Thiebaud’s famous subjects, his creamy pies and dripping ice creams, positioned his art as fodder for social-political review on occasion, but rarely for serious historical analysis. Since the beginning of his career Thiebaud reminded critics of his formal interests and his deep affiliation with the history of painting. This exhibition takes as its starting point an understanding of Thiebaud’s painterly language—its historical sources and contemporary affiliations.

“Thiebaud’s masterful ability to transform paint into the substance it depicts is especially powerful in his dessert paintings.”—Rachel Teagle, Founding Director, Manetti Shrem Museum

Detail photo of painting by Wayne Thiebaud
Detail from Wayne Thiebaud: 1958–1968
Photo of internal catalogue spread featuring paintings by Wayne Thiebaud
Detail from Wayne Thiebaud: 1958–1968

“Painting a row of cakes the way they are displayed on a lunch counter suggests some rather obvious notions about conformism, mechanized living, and mass produced culture. In addition there are some surprising things which are present . . . how alone these endless rows can be . . . a kind of lonely togetherness . . . each piece of pie has a heightened loneliness of its very own giving it a uniqueness and specialness in spite of its regimentation. None of us can escape our responsibility however totalitarian or utopian our world may be.”—Wayne Thiebaud

Contributions by Margaretta Lovell, Alexander Nemerov, Francesca Wilmott, and Arielle Hardy include scholarly essays and an illustrated chronology, resulting in a catalogue that is both visually rich and thought-provoking.

The exhibition opens on January 16, 2018.


Save 30% on the exhibition catalogue with online purchase. Enter code 17M6662 at checkout.


Must-Read Articles for the 2017 World Architecture Festival

The World Architecture Festival, a three-day event for architects and interior design professionals, is being held in Berlin from November 15–17. Whether or not you are attending the Festival, we invite you to read the following articles focused on German architecture from the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, which we are making available for free without a subscription for a limited time. 


The Cultural Center Architecture as Cultural Policy in Postwar Europe
Kenny Cupers

Luxury Apartments with a Tenement Heart: The Kurfürstendamm and the Berliner Zimmer
Douglas Mark Klahr

The Hut on the Garden Plot Informal Architecture in Twentieth-Century Berlin
Florian Urban

From “National Style” to “Rationalized Construction”: Mass-Produced Housing, Style, and Architectural Discourse in the East German Journal Deutsche Architektur, 1956–1964
Emily Pugh

Review: Die büürgerliche Villa in Deutschland 1830–1900 by Wolfgang Bröönner; German Cities and Bourgeois Modernism 1890–1924 by Maiken Umbach
Reviewed by Stefan Muthesius

Review: Albert Speer: Architecture 1932–1942, by Léon Krier
Reviewed by Barbara Miller Lane

 


Save 40% on New & Notable Western History Titles

The 2017 Western History Association convenes November 1-4 in San Diego, CA, and WHA members can save 40% on UC Press titles when they visit us at booth #28.

Get an early look at just some of the titles we’ll have on view by visiting our Western History Association landing page—and take advantage of the conference discount early. Browse new and forthcoming UC Press titles in the field of Western History, and save.


Open in order to . . . . Author Anne Rademacher Explains Why She Published with Luminos

by Anne Rademacher, author of Building Green: Environmental Architects and the Struggle for Sustainability in Mumbai

At UC Press, open access—the free, immediate, unrestricted, online access to peer-reviewed research and scholarly work—is central to our mission. In celebration of 2017 International Open Access Week (October 23-29), we are highlighting open access publishing initiatives at UC Press, including our Collabra and Luminos publishing programs. This year’s OA Week theme “Open in order to . . . ” is an invitation to answer the question of what concrete benefits can be realized by making scholarly publications openly available. Follow the full blog series here#OAWeek #OpenInOrderTo


We live in an age marked by environmental vulnerability—some of it longstanding, and some completely new. In recent weeks, flooding and storm events seemed to serve as a daily reminder of environmental vulnerability: from Florida to Houston to Puerto Rico and across the Caribbean. Just a few months ago, Mumbai, the setting for Building Green: Environmental Architects and the Struggle for Sustainability in Mumbai, experienced record-setting rainfall and catastrophic floods—just one chapter in the story of 2017’s Asian monsoon, a season marked by floods, landslides, and damaging rains that affected millions across the region and killed well over a thousand people.

The frequency and intensity of storm events is just one environmental condition that cities around the world will have to face if they are to maintain basic services like water, energy, and shelter provision—to say nothing of social well being, public health, and safety. Regardless of our location on the global map, we face the question of whether and how we can realize ecological sustainability and social resilience in the context of an uncertain, but certainly unprecedented, environmental future.

If achieving sustainable cities is a key challenge to humanity, then those who seek to design and implement its components—green buildings, open spaces and parks, cleaner energy systems, and the like—are critically important for forging needed change. We might consider certain kinds of green expertise to be essential to the planners, developers, municipal officials, activists, and architects of our future cities. What are their visions and aspirations for sustainable cities and societies? How is training in a “green” urban profession different from conventional training? And, perhaps most importantly, once one knows the tools of the green expert, what does it take to implement them?

Building Green traces the experience of environmental architects as they study to acquire the skills they need, and then try, post-training, to implement what they’ve learned. By recounting architects’ experiences, the book gives us a sense of the layers of powerful interests, institutions, and history that are fundamental aspects of any kind of urban transformation. It underlines the chasm that often exists between practitioners who are trying to make cities more environmentally sound, and the forces that hold sway over how cities are ultimately built—a key obstacle we must overcome if we are to realize a more sustainable urban future.

Why open access? At the level of a future we share in common—one marked by an uncertain and even unprecedented environment—open access allows readers worldwide to learn from one another. But equally important is the potential for open access publications to reach readers who would otherwise be unable to participate in the conversation or to learn from the experiences beyond their geographic context. In the case of Building Green, it is a chance to widely share one group’s story of forging a greener urban future in a complex and unsustainable present.


Anne Rademacher is Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Anthropology at New York University. Her books include Reigning the River: Urban Ecologies and Political Transformation in Kathmandu, Ecologies of Urbanism in India: Metropolitan Civility and Sustainability, and the edited volume Places of Nature in Ecologies of Urbanism.

Building Green is published in University of California Press’s Luminos open access book program. Click here to download a free digital copy.

Sign up for the Luminos eNewsletter to learn more about future Luminos publications and other Luminos news.


A Look at Teotihuacan for International Archaeology Day

Founded in the first century BCE near a set of natural springs in an otherwise dry northeastern corner of the Valley of Mexico, the ancient metropolis of Teotihuacan was on a symbolic level a city of elements. With a multiethnic population of perhaps one hundred thousand, at its peak in 400 CE, it was the cultural, political, economic, and religious center of ancient Mesoamerica. A devastating fire in the city center led to a rapid decline after the middle of the sixth century, but Teotihuacan was never completely abandoned or forgotten. Today the UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most visited archaeological site in Mexico.

Photograph of Sun Pyramid at Teotihuacan for International Archaeology Day
View of the Sun Pyramid looking east. At 63 meters tall, the Sun Pyramid was one of the largest and tallest structures in the Western Hemisphere until the development of the skyscraper in the nineteenth century. Photograph by Jorge Pérez de Lara Elías, © INAH. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.
Detail of pyramid sculptures at Teotihuacan
Facade of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, assembled as a mosaic of large and small sculptures. Photograph by Jorge Pérez de Lara Elías, © INAH. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.

The recently opened exhibition at the de Young Museum is historic in many ways. The result of long-term international collaboration, including a 30 year partnership with Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), the spectacular exhibition features more than 200 artifacts and artworks from the site displayed in dramatic and awe-inspiring ways. It is a rare opportunity to contemplate objects drawn from major collections in Mexico, some very recently excavated, and many on view in the U.S. for the first time.

Exhibition detail from de Young Museum
Installation of “Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire” at the de Young Museum. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.
Excavation photography from Teotihuacan
Two standing anthropomorphic sculptures discovered near the terminus of the tunnel beneath the Ciudadela and the Feathered Serpent Pyramid. Photograph by Sergio Gómez Chávez. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.

Today is International Archaeology Day, so curator Matthew Robb’s comments on the exhibition are especially timely.

“The ideas behind Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire were really inspired by the work of my archaeologist colleagues. They selected many of the objects for the catalogue from their own projects, and we worked together to shape those selections into a coherent image of this ancient city. We had a real opportunity to showcase their work to a broader audience, as well as provide the field with an important update to what we know about Teotihuacan. Archaeology is painstaking, intensely collaborative work—it requires so much patience and discipline. The end result is that tantalizing glimpse into the past, into how people once lived and thought—a glimpse made more complete by the meticulous gathering of data and objects archaeologists carry out every day.”  —Matthew Robb, curator

In the exhibition, monumental and ritual objects from Teotihuacan’s three largest pyramids—the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, the Moon Pyramid, and the Sun Pyramid—are shown alongside mural paintings, ceramics, and stone sculptures from the city’s apartment compounds. By bringing these pieces together, and contextualizing specific sites within the city, this is an unprecedented opportunity to experience a significant place in Mexico’s cultural landscape.

Map drawing of Teotihuacan site
Site map of Teotihuacan. Composed by Hilary Olcott, Image courtesy of the FAMSF.
Detail of exhibits at de Young Museum
Installation of “Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire” at the de Young Museum. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.

Edited by Matthew Robb and co-published with the de Young Museum, the beautifully illustrated catalogue is equally impressive in its scope and ability to unearth the secrets within and beneath the city that are only now coming to light.

Cover image of exhibition catalogue

For an all-access preview of the exhibition check out the Teotihuacan digital story. We expect that it will inspire not only a visit to the exhibition, but also a trip to Mexico to see the captivating and mysterious ancient city en vivo.

Note that the exhibition will also travel to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Spring 2018.

In honor of International Archaeology Day, save 30% on the exhibition catalogue with code 16M4197.

 


Save 40% on New & Notable German Studies Titles

The 2017 German Studies Association Conference convenes October 5 – 8 in Atlanta, GA.

Visit our landing page to browse new and forthcoming UC Press titles across various disciplines, including Cinema & Media Studies, Music, Art & Visual Culture, and History. Save 40% online with discount code 16E8104, or request an exam copy for consideration to use in your upcoming classes. The discount code expires December 31, 2017.

 


World Architecture Day 2017: Climate Change Action

 

The theme for this year’s World Day of Architecture, which is is celebrated annually on the first Monday of October, is “Climate Change Action!” Noting that rapid urbanization and building developments are increasing our fuel energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, the International Union of Architects (UIA) calls upon architects and architecture organizations to mobilize efforts to respond to the Paris Climate Change Agreement initiatives and has set aside today to celebrate achievements and visions of architecture that is responsible, innovative, and enriching for communities. An early example of these efforts is Sacramento’s Bateson Building, considered the first large-scale building to embody what we now call sustainable architecture. The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians recently took a look at the history of the building:

 

In Sacramento, the capital of California, a new midtown government administration building, designated “Site 1-A” during design and construction from 1977 to 1981, was named at its opening ceremony for anthropologist and cyberneticist Gregory Bateson. It was commissioned following the narrow 1975 electoral victory of the thirty-six-year-old Governor Jerry Brown, and the building is acknowledged as “the first large-scale building to embody what we now call sustainable architecture.” It was referred to as “climate modulating” at the time, and the very word sustainable acquired early currency among its designers during construction. It was intended as a showcase for ecological design, integrated into what we might now describe as policies of “resilience,” demonstrating national leadership in an America newly attentive, since President Richard Nixon’s 1970 signing of the National Environmental Policy Act, to the nation-building potential of the environment. Yet the building’s place in history remains unclear. Why? Continue reading.

 

 


Banned Books Week 2017: Promoting Progressive Change

As part of Banned Books Week, occurring September 24 – 30, we’ll be sharing recommended reading lists that promote the freedom to seek and express ideas. At UC Press, we believe that scholarship is a powerful tool for fostering a deeper understanding of our world and changing how people think, plan, and govern. Our mission is to drive progressive change by seeking out and cultivating the brightest minds and giving them voice, reach, and impact.

During #BannedBooksWeek, get a 30% discount on these selected titles that promote progressive change in feminism, politics, Islam, and free speech. #BannedBooks

What’s your favorite UC Press book that you think should have made the list for Banned Books Week? Let us know in the comment section below.