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reed magazine logoSummer 2008

New Faculty Books

Mark Bedau ’76, professor of philosophy and humanities, has published Emergence: Contemporary Readings in Philosophy and Science (MIT Press, 2008). The collection of 24 essays, edited in collaboration with Paul Humphreys of the University of Virginia, guides readers through 30 years of approaches by philosophers and scientists to understanding self-organizing systems and emergent phenomena—which arise out of yet remain autonomous from their more basic constituents. Covering both recent experiments and seminal treatises, Emergence serves as a helpful compendium of the enduring questions that surround the rapidly evolving field of metaphysical inquiry: How does one define emergent phenomena? What ontological categories of entities can be emergent? And, ultimately, is emergence an objective feature of the natural world, or merely in the eye of the beholder?

Dana E. Katz, assistant professor of art history and humanities, has released The Jew in the Art of the Italian Renaissance (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008). Her study explores the ways in which a common European visual language depicting Jews as deviant outcasts of society found resonance in ruler-commissioned sculpture and painting of Renaissance Italy. Although the written record and subsequent historians have long described 15th- and 16th-century Italy as a place where Jews enjoyed relative freedom from persecution, Katz argues that degrading yet artful images that identified Jews as usurers, kidnappers, and ritual murderers helped to further delineate widely understood communal boundaries by employing symbolic violence to strengthen the civic identity of Christian communities.

Lisa M. Steinman, Kenan Professor of English and Humanities, has published Invitation to Poetry: The Pleasures of Studying Poetry and Poetics (Blackwell Publishing, 2008), a concise introduction designed to help any reader become more fluent in the language of verse. Using examples drawn from British and American lyrics—from Shakespeare to Elizabeth Bishop—Steinman illustrates how poems interact with readers’ expectations, causing them to pay closer attention to features of language like sound, repetition, puns, and echoes often overlooked in speech and prose. Providing an accessible survey of the techniques and fundamental forms that poems both follow and react against, Invitation to Poetry will help new and experienced poetry readers alike better understand how they can achieve a greater appreciation of verse by participating in poets’ conversations with lyric tradition.

reed magazine logoSummer 2008