New Books in the Arts & Sciences

Panel discussions celebrating recent work by the Columbia Faculty.

Celebrating Recent Work by Dennis Tenen

Thursday, November 2, 2017

This book challenges the ways we read, write, store, and retrieve information in the digital age. Computers—from electronic books to smart phones—play an active role in our social lives. Our technological choices thus entail theoretical and political commitments. Dennis Tenen takes up today's strange enmeshing of humans, texts, and machines to argue that our most ingrained intuitions about texts are profoundly alienated from the physical contexts of their intellectual production. Drawing on a range of primary sources from both literary theory and software engineering, he makes a case for a more transparent practice of human–computer interaction. Plain Text is thus a rallying call, a frame of mind as much as a file format. It reminds us, ultimately, that our devices also encode specific modes of governance and control that must remain available to interpretation.

Celebrating Recent Work by Naor Ben-Yehoyada

Thursday, September 14, 2017

In The Mediterranean Incarnate, anthropologist Naor Ben-Yehoyada takes us aboard the Naumachos for a thirty-seven-day voyage in the fishing grounds between Sicily and Tunisia. He also takes us on a historical exploration of the past eighty years to show how the Mediterranean has reemerged as a modern transnational region. From Sicilian poaching in North African territory to the construction of the TransMediterranean gas pipeline, Ben-Yehoyada examines the transformation of political action, imaginaries, and relations in the central Mediterranean while detailing the remarkable bonds that have formed between the Sicilians and Tunisians who live on its waters.

The Wireless Past Anglo-Irish Writers and the BBC, 1931-1968 by Emily Bloom Expelling the Poor Atlantic Seaboard States and the Nineteenth-Century Origins of American Immigration Policy by Hidetaka Hirota

As the icecaps melt and the sea levels rise around the globe―threatening human existence as we know it―climate change has become one of the most urgent and controversial issues of our time. For most people, however, trying to understand the science, politics, and arguments on either side can be dizzying, leading to frustrating and unproductive debates.Now, in this groundbreaking new work, two of our most renowned thinkers present the realities of global warming in the most human of terms―everyday conversation―showing us how to convince even the most stubborn of skeptics as to why we need to act now. Indeed, through compelling Socratic dialogues, Philip Kitcher and Evelyn Fox Keller tackle some of the thorniest questions facing mankind today.

Anna Karenina and Others: Tolstoy’s Labyrinth of Plots by Liza Knapp How Russia Learned to Write: Literature and the Imperial Table of Ranks by Irina Reyfman

Celebrating Recent Work by Josef Sorett

Thursday, February 23, 2017

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics  by Josef Sorrett

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa by Souleymane Bachir Diagne

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE Constitutionalism has become a byword for legitimate government, but is it fated to lose its relevance as constitutional states relinquish power to international institutions? This book evaluates the extent to which constitutionalism, as an empirical idea and normative ideal, can be adapted to institutions beyond the state by surveying the sophisticated legal and political system of the European Union. Having originated in a series of agreements between states, the EU has acquired important constitutional features like judicial review, protections for individual rights, and a hierarchy of norms. Nonetheless, it confounds traditional models of constitutional rule to the extent that its claim to authority rests on the promise of economic prosperity and technocratic competence rather than on the democratic will of citizens. Critically appraising the European Union and its legal system, this book proposes the idea of 'functional constitutionalism' to describe this distinctive configuration of public power. Although the EU is the most advanced instance of functional constitutionalism to date, understanding this pragmatic mode of constitutional authority is essential for assessing contemporary international economic governance.

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