Tues 8.10.10| Picturing the Meltdown

Seth Tobocman and Eric Laursen, Understanding the Crash Soft Skull Press, 2010



Derivatives, options, futures, swaps -- such byzantine financial inventions make the economic crisis seem unknowable. But, as Seth Tobocman and Eric Laursen contend, that's a politically convenient way of seeing the world. They have set for themselves the task of explaining the crisis and doing so in a way that is comprehensible to the woman or man on the street. And the comic book is their medium of choice.

Mon 8.09.10| "Rights Talk" and Workers

Richard McIntyre, Are Worker Rights Human Rights? U. of Michigan Press, 2008

Human rights and their violation are an insistent focus of many activists and organizations. But are there important limitations to rights-based politics? Because an individualist interpretation of rights holds sway, Richard McIntyre asserts that the rights revolution has failed to advance the collective strength of US workers.

Wed 7.21.10| The Frankfurt School in the US

Thomas Wheatland, The Frankfurt School in ExileU. of Minnesota Press, 2009

San Francisco Freedom School

Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer: tremendously influential thinkers all, and all part of a grouping of German scholars called the Frankfurt School. A new book by Thomas Wheatland examines the Frankfurt School's interactions with US intellectuals in New York City. It also contests conventional understandings of the impact of Marcuse's ideas on the New Left.

Tues 7.20.10| The Art of Looking

Jacob and Bass, eds., Learning Mind: Experience into Art SAIC & UC Press, 2009

Michael Brenson, Visionaries and Outcasts: The NEA, Congress, and the Place of the Visual Artist in America The New Press, 2000

What are you looking at? The Spanish artist Juan Munoz called that his first artistic question. Art critic Michael Brenson has been thinking about that question for a decade; it's changed the way he encounters art. According to Brenson, that question leads to many others, all of which can enhance how we go about engaging with, and learning from, works of art.

Mon 7.19.10| Life At Any Cost?

Gusterson and Besteman, eds., The Insecure American: How We Got Here and What We Should Do About It UC Press, 2010

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Death Without Weeping UC Press, 1992

Death has become something to be avoided at all costs. But what are the costs of having, and acting upon, that mindset? Nancy Scheper-Hughes comments on the culture of fear around death and dying in the US, and puts it into historical and cultural context. She also talks about body theft, the Terri Schiavo case, and her and her parents' experiences as the latter's health declined.

Wed 7.14.10| Ecological Economics

Economic growth and industrial development, we are told, are the keys to human and social progress. Debal Deb is far from convinced. In his book Beyond Developmentality, Dr. Deb critiques mainstream economic priorities; calls into question many assumptions about the natural world; describes how traditional indigenous societies have interacted with nature; and calls for a zero-growth economy.
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