Sunday, January 23, 2011

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History by Michel Rolph-Trouillot

Rolph-Trouillot writes about the ways in which power is asserted to silence parts of history. Sometimes the process is intentional, but oftentimes it is not. Which version of a story gets told? What is ignored? What might be lost forever because the sources were not deemed important enough to save?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Suspect Relations: Sex, Race, and Resistance in Colonial North Carolina by Kirsten Fischer

Fischer writes about the ways in which sexual activity shaped the boundaries of race in the 18th century. She discusses white, Native American, servant, and slave women and the sexual realities they faced. These sexual relationships were imbued with double standards, and were important in determining acceptable racial behavior as well. It was well written, easy to read, and had some very blunt examples. It is also the last history book I am reading this semester.

I read this book back in December and just realized that I never posted it. The smiley face, which appeared in a salad bowl after all the greens were gone, is because I was happy that I was going to get to spend the next month reading some fiction.

The Story of Enschede and Memphis by William R. Herstein

While looking for a different book in the museum library this morning, I spotted this small text. I love Memphis history, especially the history that has not been widely written and debated (I'm talking about you, Civil War and Yellow Fever epidemic). Evidently, after World War II Memphis "adopted" the city of Enschede, Netherlands, because of the cotton trading connection between the cities. Students made cigar boxes full of school supplies and citizens donated clothing and money and shipped them to Enschede via New York. When a new hotel was opened in Enschede in 1950, it was named Memphis-hotel and originally flew the flags of the Kingdom of Holland, the United States, and the City of Memphis. Who knew?

For some more stories about Memphis' colorful past, check out the Memphis Moments that were writen by staff members at the Pink Palace.

Big Blonde and Other Stories by Dorothy Parker

From July through December, this little text was my "waiting" book. Several years ago, Penguin released classics in small, incredible portable books and called them Penguin 60s in honor of their 60th anniversary. This book resided in my purse and was only read when the line at the bank was moving slowly or I was waiting for someone to arrive while at a restaurant. I have only ever found a couple of these books in used book stores, but I always keep an eye out for them. If you spot any, please let me know. Or even better, buy it, and I will pay you back the 25-50 cents it cost you.

See how small and convenient this book is? It hardly took up any prime purse real estate.

Surviving Your Stupid Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School by Adam Ruben (PhD!)

A-freaking-MAZING. This book made me laugh out loud with its clever diagrams and painfully true assessments of life as a grad student. After a semester of grad school, things are starting to feel less overwhelming, but there are some aspects of it that I do not think I will ever consider pleasant. I am glad that I have the opportunity to do what I am doing; I am also glad that I am learning to laugh about it (when I don't feel like throwing a book out a window or yelling at undergrads whom fail to grasp the finer points of plagiarism). This picture is of the GA office in which I spend many hours a week.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert

I got several odd looks from family members while reading this book. I think it was the spontaneous bouts of laughter.

How to Talk about Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard

I will be honest; this book confused me. Bayard did encourage me to think about reading in a new way by suggesting that the act of reading is not a seamless process, but rather one that contains contradictions and gradations. He also notes that books are not binary and do not exist for individuals as either read or unread (sounding like Derrida to anyone else?). The idea that not you should not read books but should instead talk about books that you have not read in order to be able to be creative and tell your own story is an interesting concept, but I am not sure that I agree. Basically, I am puzzled at what I should take away from this book or if I should have read it at all given that I contradicted the title.

And no, I have not read any of the books in the picture. To take a suggestion from Bayard, I am not ashamed to admit it.

Side note: I get a kick out of checking the back cover of books to see their classification. Incidentally, this book is classified as Popular Culture/Literary Studies (although I am redesignating it philosophy). For some reason, I find the fact that someone sits down and gives books identifying labels fascinating. I am adding that to my mental list of job possibilities: book classifier. So in that spirit of classification and tidy categories, I have tagged all of my previous entries. Looks like fiction was last year's winner followed closely by history (shocker).