Category Archives: Books and Arts

Goldstein *77 Imagines Plato Today

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein *77 (Steven Pinker)

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein *77 (Steven Pinker)

Plato at the Googleplex, by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein *77 (Pantheon)

The author: Goldstein is a novelist and philosopher who has been the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” award, recognized as the Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association, and elected to the Academy of Arts and Sciences. She also is the author of six novels, two studies, and a number of short stories and essays.

The book: What would happen if Plato were to reappear in the 21st century as an author on a nation-wide book tour? What would he say about crowd-sourcing at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.? About child-rearing during a panel conversation with a “tiger mom” and a Freudian psychoanalyst? Or about personal identity and free will while getting a brain scan in the cognitive neuroscience lab of a prestigious university? Plato explores these topics with people he meets on the book tour in modern-day Platonic dialogues that Publishers’ Weekly called “entertaining and accessible.” Goldstein weaves passages from Plato’s actual writings into the conversations and provides an exploration of Plato’s ideas. Continue reading

Maisel ’84 Exhibits ‘Ghostly Images’

MaiselThe exhibition: “History’s Shadow,” photographs of X-rays of sculptural antiquities, by David Maisel ’84.

Dates and location: April 3 through May 10, at Yancey Richardson Gallery, 525 West 22nd Street, New York City.

The artist: Maisel is a San Francisco-based photographer. His photographs, multi-media projects, and public installations are included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among others.

The show, from the press release: “The exhibitionʼs title comes from a project of the same name, inspired by the artistʼs residency at the Getty Research Institute, during which time he re-photographed X-rays of sculptural antiquities culled from the museumʼs conservation archives. According to Maisel, ‘Historyʼs Shadow’ refers ‘both to the literal images that the X-rays create as they are re-photographed, and to the metaphorical content informed by the past from which these objects derive.’” In addition to “History’s Shadow,” the exhibition includes works from Maisel’s “Library of Dust” series, in which he photographed copper canisters containing cremated remains of patients from a psychiatric hospital.

Phillips *08 Interviews L.A. Architects

Phillips-crop-1New book: L.A. [Ten], Interviews on Los Angeles Architecture, 1970s-1990s, with Stephen Phillips *08 (Lars Müller Publishers)

The editor: An architect and historian, Phillips is an associate professor of architecture at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and founding director of the Cal Poly L.A. Metro Program in Architecture and Urban Design.

The book: In this collection of oral history interviews, a group of architects discuss their lives, work, and the cultural history of L.A. architecture. They were known as the “L.A. Ten” — a loosely affiliated group of architects who influenced Los Angeles architecture. Among them are Neil Denari, Ming Fung, Craig Hodgetts, Wes Jones, Eric Owen Moss, and Michael Rotondi. Phillips and others conducted the interviews. Continue reading

Jacobs-Jenkins ’06’s Play Opens in New York

New play: Appropriate, by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins ’06, directed by Liesl Tommy

Dates and location: Through April 13, at Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre, Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, New York, N.Y.

The playwright: The Brooklyn-based Jacobs-Jenkins is a playwright-in-residence at Signature Theatre Company in New York City. He has won the 2013 Sundance Theatre Institute Tennessee Williams Award, among other honors. His 2010 play Neighbors explored race. Continue reading

Jordan ’60 Translates Homer’s Odyssey

HomerNew book: The Odyssey, translated by Herbert Jordan ’60, with an introduction by E. Christian Kopff (University of Oklahoma Press)

The translator: After his only son was killed in 1999 in a car accident, Jordan, who had been reading Homer in translation, learned to read the original Homeric Greek to help channel his grief. Later he decided to tackle producing a new verse translation of the Iliad, and has now done the same with the Odyssey. An attorney, Jordan is an independent scholar of Greek.

The book: Homer’s Odyssey is a classic of Western Literature. Jordan translates the ancient Greek epic into blank verse, rendering the Odyssey line-for-line in iambic pentameter. Jordan navigates Homer’s dactyls and extended metaphors, capturing the essence of the poet’s meanings while avoiding an overly literal or colloquial style. This edition features maps of the Aegean region and Odysseus’ travels, explanatory notes, a pronunciation glossary of nouns, and an index of similes. Continue reading

Hillis ’02 Studies Russian Nationalism in Ukraine

Children of RusNew book: Children of Rus´: Right-Bank Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation, by Faith Hillis ’02 (Cornell University Press)

The author: Hillis is an assistant professor of Russian history at the University of Chicago. Her focus is on imperial Russia, with a special interest in 19th- and early 20th-century politics, culture, and ideas. In her research and teaching she explores how Russia’s peculiar political institutions — and its status as a multiethnic empire — shaped public opinion and political cultures. This is her first book.

The book: Hillis examines a little-known chapter in the history of tsarist Russia. Looking at the southwestern borderlands of the Russian Empire, an area that today is located in the heart of the state of Ukraine, she uncovers one of the most aggressive and politically successful Russian nationalist movements. Right-bank Ukraine was one of the Russian empire’s last territorial acquisitions and most diverse corners, with few of its residents speaking Russian as their native language or identifying with the culture of the Great Russian interior. Yet the southwest’s Russian nationalists identified as “Little Russians”— Orthodox believers who embraced what we today would understand to be Ukrainian culture while eschewing Ukrainian national separatism. Continue reading