Temple University Press staff selects the Books of the Year to give, get, and read

As we wish everyone Happy Holidays and happy reading, the staff at Temple University Press selects the memorable titles of 2013.

Micah Kleit, Executive Editor

The Press published a bounty of riches this year, from Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer’s Envisioning Emancipation to Dean Bartoli Smith’s Never Easy, Never Pretty, an exciting account of the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl win. But the book I’d most like to give as a gift is Philipp H. Lepenies’ Art, Politics, and Development: How Linear Perspective Shaped Policies in the Western World. It’s the kind of work that represents, to me at least, the best of what university presses do in advancing scholarship.Art, Politics, and Development_sm

I’d love it if someone bought me a copy of Boris Kachka’s Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.  It’s just the kind of inside-publishing book that reminds me of why I love what I do!

The book I’m planning to read over the holiday — in preparation for the “sequel” that’s due early this Spring —  is Robert Coover’s The Origin of the Brunists.  It’s one of his earliest novels, and I’m excited that he’s returning to this story and continuing it, since it speaks (like so much of his work) powerfully to the ideas of what makes up the American character.

2013 was a great year for big novels from emerging and established writers, and the very best I read this year had to be Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers, a book that was at once really economical in style but epic in scope: about 70s radicals, motorcycles, Italy and America.  I don’t think I’m the only one who thought of Don DeLillo when reading Kushner’s wonderful novel.

Sara Cohen, Rights and Contracts Manager

G-000865-20111017.jpgThe best TUP book to give?   My loved one are going to have to wait until Presidents’ Day to receive their Christmas gifts so that I can give them Thomas Foster’s Sex and the Founding Fathers.

The book I most want to receive for the holidays? The first book of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle. A friend sent me Zadie Smith’s New York Review of Books piece “Man vs. Corpse,” which cites My Struggle, and I’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since.  I also hope to receive a vegan cookbook (maybe Veganomicon)  so that I can start the new year off with good dietary intentions.

The book I plan to read over the break?  I’m supposed to be reading A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn with my husband and one of our friends.  I’m going to spend the break trying to catch up to the two of them.

Aaron Javsicas, Senior Editor

MoreMuralsEarlier this year I read and very much enjoyed Red Plenty, by Francis Spufford. It’s engrossing historical fiction about what it might have been like to live in the Khrushchev-era Soviet Union, and to feel real optimism about the country’s future even while beginning to see cracks that would spread and destroy it.
I look forward to reading and giving Temple University Press’s Philadelphia murals books Philadelphia Murals and the Stories they Tell, and  More Philadelphia Murals the the Stories They Tell, as a new volume, Philadelphia Mural Arts @ 30,  is forthcoming in 2014. I’m from Philadelphia but only recently moved back, after thirteen years in New York, to come on board at the Press. The terrific Mural Arts Program expanded a great deal while I was gone, and I’m excited to catch up with it through these beautiful books.

Charles Ault, Production Director

This year I read A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki, which is now on my all-time favorites list. Ruth Ozeki is a 40-ish Buddhist priest who lives with her husband on an island near Vancouver, Canada. Her book features a writer named Ruth who lives with her husband on an island near Vancouver. She discovers the diary of a 16-year-old Japanese girl in a waterproofed bundle that washes up on the shore. The girl is contemplating suicide and has decided to write down the story of her grandmother, a Buddhist nun, as her last act. We (the reader) read pieces of the diary as Ruth does and then we read Ruth’s reaction to the same thing we just read (and reacted to). But I haven’t mentioned the Zen philosophy and ritual that pervades the story. Or the discussion of quantum mechanics. Or contemporary Japanese pornography….

Joan Vidal, Production Manager

Justifiable Conduct_smThe best TUP book to give: If you have a group of friends who like to read and discuss books, I recommend Erich Goode’s Justifiable Conduct . Filled with examples from the memoirs of public figures who seek absolution for their transgressions, this book is sure to spark conversation.

The book I most want to receive for the holidays: I would like to have The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss, by Theodor Geisel.

The book I plan to read over the break: Next on my list is Waiting for Snow in Havana, by Carlos Eire.

Ann-Marie Anderson, Marketing Director

Don't Call Me_smThe best book I read this year?  The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. This year’s National Book Award fiction winner is the wild story about John Brown and his raid, narrated by a freed slave boy masquerading as a girl.  It’s hilarious.

The best TUP book to give? Don’t Call Me Inspirational, Harilyn Rousso’s compelling memoir.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.

The book I plan to read over the break: I will finish Edwidge Dandicat’s
Claire of the Sea Light and begin Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck.

Brian Murray, Marketing Assistant

How We DIe Now_smThe best TUP book to give this season is Never Easy, Never Pretty by Dean Bartoli Smith. My father has been a Ravens fan his whole life and reminisces about going to games with his father when he was growing up. This book is perfect for him and perfect for any other Ravens’ fan or football fan in general.
The book I plan to read over break is Karla Erickson’s  How We Die Now. What better way to celebrate the holidays with my immediate family and older relatives than to evaluate my own mortality and the cost of living longer? Also a perfect gift for my great Aunt Lenora who will be celebrating her 82nd birthday this January.

Gary Kramer, Publicity Manager

WHAT I WILL GIVE: Music, Style, and Aging by Andy Bennett. Because holidays should be filled with sex, drugs, rock and roll and reading, right? Music Style Aging_sm

WHAT I WILL READ: Ink, by Sabrina Vourvoulias (one of the co-authors of 200 Years of Latino History in Philadelphia by the staff of Al Día). Ink looks at immigration issues through multiple lenses and I really admire Vourvoulias’ work.

THE BEST BOOK I READ IN 2013: Night Film, by Marisha Pessl, is not so much a book you read as a story you investigate. It involves a disgraced journalist and a cult filmmaker, whose daughter has died—or possibly been murdered. What’s intriguing is not just the mystery, but the format of the book: an impressive collection of photographs, website downloads, dossiers, missing persons reports, institution assessments, and created articles. It’s a fascinating interactive experience.

WHAT I WANT TO READ: I’m almost ashamed to admit that I really want to read James Franco’s Actors Anonymous.  I’m an unabashed  Francofile and a completist. I’ll also likely see his film adaptation of As I Lay Dying over the break as well.

Rhoda Wilkie receives the British Sociological Association’s Philip Abrams Memorial Prize

Livestock/Deadstock by Rhoda Wilkie received the British Sociological Association’s Philip Abrams Memorial Prize for the best first and sole-authored book within the discipline of Sociology. In this blog entry, Dr. Wilkie is interviewed by Network, the BSA newsletter, about her work and the award.

Dr. Rhoda Wilkie was awarded the Philip Abrams Memorial Prize by the British Sociological Association for her book Livestock/Deadstock about people working with farm animals; the book explores the experiences and attitudes of those involved in the daily tasks of breeding, fattening, marketing, medically treating and slaughtering food animals.

One of the judges, Dr Garry Crawford, of the University of Salford, said: “Rhoda Wilkie’s book is an excellent contribution to British sociology and sets a great example of what contemporary academic writing should be like.”

“Wilkie deals with a very pertinent and important issue – our treatment and relationship with farm animals – and in doing so manages to produce a book that is balanced, engaging, insightful and accessible, which all-round is a real triumph.”

The prize is for the best first and sole-authored book within sociology and was established in honour of Professor Philip Abrams, whose work contributed substantially to sociology and social policy research in Britain. He is remembered for the encouragement and assistance he gave to many sociologists at the start of their careers.

The BSA President, Professor John Brewer, who gave out the prize, said: “In this anniversary year for the BSA, it’s fitting that this prize honours Philip’s legacy. He had a great commitment to the BSA and to the profession of sociology. He was one of the chief organisers of the 30th anniversary conference celebration.

“Indeed, he went on to co-edit one of the conference volumes, which is well known to many of us under the title Practice and Progress: British Sociology, 1950 to 1980.  And thus it seems in a way so fitting that his immense contribution to the BSA, and to British sociology, is kept alive with this prize.

“It’s going to be difficult for me at this point not to be sentimental and give something like a father-of-the-bride speech, because I’ve known Rhoda ever since she was a PhD student.

“She’s now a colleague with me at the University of Aberdeen. So I feel as if I ought to explain that while the president is normally a judge on the Phillip Abrams Prize, the conflict of interest has meant that I had to withdraw. So congratulations to Rhoda.”

In an interview with Network, Dr. Wilkie said: “I hope the book will encourage people to think in a more nuanced way about human-livestock interactions because it challenges the view that people working with farm animals see them only as commodities. My book illustrates that livestock can be more than just ‘walking larders.’

“For example, livestock workers have different opportunities and constraints depending on their roles in the productive process from birth to slaughter. Breeders tend to have more knowledge and more opportunities to handle their animals than those who specialise in fattening up animals for slaughter.

“Agricultural workers and hobbyists form varying degrees of emotional attachment to and detachment from the animals they work with. They might start off being emotionally aloof then get to know some of the animals.

“This may occur when animals deviate from the routine process of production – for example, if an animal becomes ill or if an animal is on the farm for many years. Although livestock are routinely slaughtered it can be emotionally challenging for some workers to send individually-known animals to be killed.

“This indicates that, in practice, the commodity status of livestock is ambiguous and far from static. To varying degrees, workers commodify, decommodify and recommodify the animals they work with.

“I use the term sentient commodity to highlight this dynamic status and the fine perceptual and emotional line that workers have to negotiate in terms of seeing livestock as both economic commodities and sentient beings.”

She found though the profession could be poorly paid, and outsiders often saw it as dirty work, many of her interviewees talked about how they enjoyed working with the animals.

She carried out fieldwork in 1998 and 1999 mainly in north east Scotland, but in other areas of Scotland too. She wrote this up for her PhD at Aberdeen and then into the book.

Her fieldwork took place mainly among those working with cattle and sheep, and she met farmers, slaughterhouse staff, vets, auction workers and hobby farmers.

“This is one of the first attempts to explore human-livestock relations from a sociologically informed perspective,” said Dr Wilkie.

“It also begins to animalise our understanding of work within sociology as it reminds us that people don’t just work with people, they work with animals too.” She remains interested in interspecies work contexts and has just designed a new fourth-year course entitled “Animals and Society.”

Interview and photo reprinted from Network Summer 2011, the magazine of the British Sociological Association with the permission of the BSA.

His life’s work on behalf of animals

In this Q&A, Temple University Press author Bernard Rollin talks about Putting the Horse Before Descartes and his life’s work on behalf of animals
Q: What prompted you to write your autobiography?
A: People are always spellbound when I tell stories of my animal work, of the abuses I find and how I try to fix them; of my interactions with cowboys; of the crazy reactions some of my work garners from putatively sane people. I have been asked repeatedly to put my stories and life history into a book, and finally did so.

Q: You state that your passion is a “moral concern for animals.”  How/when did you develop this—and what challenges did you face to commit to it to the extent you did?
A: I was shocked when as a child I visited a shelter full of wonderful, beautiful animals, any and all of whom I would have been happy to take home had I been allowed to do so. When I asked what happens to them, I was told that they would be “put to sleep.” Also, as a child growing up without a father I felt extremely vulnerable and unprotected. It dawned on me that animals shared that situation. As I grew up to be physically and intellectually strong, I felt obliged to help protect them.

Q: You have done much to improve the situation for animals. You improved the condition of laboratory animals, and put an end to such practices as over-operating on animals in veterinary and medical schools. Did these related efforts develop naturally, or from your growing reputation?
A: I was fortunate to be faced with real ethical issues in animal use at the same time as I was attempting to develop a new ethic for animals. These two tasks operated synergistically, so that convincing the veterinary school to lessen the severity of animal use led me to seek realistic and practicable solutions that could be sold to educators. Similarly, the more I learned about biomedical research, the more I worked to create a practicable ethic for animals that researchers would adopt, despite their ideological denial of the relevance of ethics to science. There being very few people working on real solutions to ethical issues occasioned by animal use in science, my work attracted considerable interest and attention.

Q: Much of your life has been dedicated to passing laws that protect animals used in research. Can you describe the reputation you developed when you want humans to use pain-killers when operating on research animals?
A: Somewhat to my surprise, I was not welcomed and embraced by either the research community or the activist community. In one banner week in 1982, I was labeled a “Nazi and an apologist for lab-trashers” by the New England Journal of Medicine and a “sellout for accepting the reality of science” by an activist magazine. Initially quite depressed at these demented responses, I was assured by friends and colleagues that I must be doing the right thing if I was getting attacked from both sides.

Q: You write about connecting with animals first through having pets.  You discuss farmers who talk about caring for sick animals, often spending more on them than the animals may be worth. The dedication animal owners have is often unshakable. What have you observed in your travels about the bond between humans and animals?
I have seen old and lonely people redeemed in their lives by their relationship with animals. I recall one old lady in Manhattan bundled up in heavy clothing to take her little dog to the park. I remonstrated with her that the city was in the grip of a major storm that could put her in danger of accident or illness. She replied that “I must take Fluffy to the park. She misses her friends.” For this lonely woman, her obligation to her dog provided her with a reason to get up in the morning and brave a snowstorm, thereby rescuing her from a sedentary existence.

Q: You were booed by cattleman at a lecture for one minute and 40 seconds before you said anything. You also write eloquently about your classroom experiences—getting rodeo cowboys to use breakaway ropes. You often disarm the folks you educate by getting them to think about their processes and actions. How did you develop your strategy/approach for changing minds?
A: In teaching history of philosophy, I inevitably taught Plato. I recalled Plato’s dictum that one could not, when dealing with adults and ethics, teach, only remind. I took this to mean that one could not try to force one’s ethics on others, but rather show them that your ethical conclusions in fact follow from what they already believe. I used this approach very effectively with individuals, and also with anticipating the direction the social ethic to go regarding animals.

Q: You are a philosopher, but also a professor, an advocate of biomedicine and veterinary ethics.  How did you intertwine these related/diverse subjects?
A:It was not difficult to do this. I taught history of philosophy for many years for seven hours a week. No one asked the question of why animals were excluded from the scope of moral concern. It was quite natural to me, in the course of trying to answer that question, to try and include animals in the moral arena and to augment their moral status. The more I studied biomedicine and veterinary medicine, the more I realized that both fields ignored the ethical presuppositions of their activities. Clearly a dominant question in each field was the moral status of animals. For example, I saw the fundamental question of veterinary ethics as being whether a veterinary practitioner’s primary obligation is to animal or owner. In biomedical science it was universally believed that experimentation on animals was basic to scientific progress, yet no one engaged the question of what entitles us to hurt these innocent being for our own benefit. I also noted that animals did not receive the best possible treatment consonant with their use in research – for example, there was no knowledge or use of analgesia. I resolved to bring pain control into science.

Q: Your work has introduced you to biotechnology, animal and industrial agriculture. How did you become involved in all these various fields, and how did you adapt to the different issues you faced?
A: I became interested in a wide variety of animal uses in society, hoping I could change things for the benefit of animals. The above uses were obvious areas where one needed to introduce ethical thinking about animal welfare. I have been remarkably blessed with wonderful colleagues in a variety of areas who guided me in mastering these areas even when they disagreed with me. My colleagues have been extraordinarily generous with time and tutelageand have kept me from making a fool of myself in new areas. I in fact have been vindicated in my activities by receiving joint appointments in the departments of Biomedical Sciences and Animal Sciences where I teach courses and do numerous guest lectures. I have even done research to benefit animal welfare under the aegis of such colleagues, who on many occasions donated their own time and research money. If there is a more open University than Colorado State University, I do not know of it.

Q: What has surprised you most in your work?
A:  I have been most surprised by the degree to which rational argument can change people’s thinking at any educational level. In fact, MD/PhDs are far more rigid in their thinking than “ordinary people” or cowboys. On one occasion, I spoke to the Montana cattlemen’s Association. When I contracted for the speech, they asked me how much time I needed. I replied “as much if you can give me.” To my astonishment, they gave me eight hours with an hour off for lunch. In fact, they stayed for 10 hours, only reluctantly stopping because I had a dinner engagement.

Q: What has been the most rewarding part of your work?
A: Without a doubt, the most rewarding part of my work has been producing measurable diminution in the amount of pain and suffering animals experience, be it by virtue of laws mandating analgesia, or by virtue of my eliminating brutal and brutalizing laboratory exercises. There is probably no greater “high” than alleviating the suffering of innocents.

Disaster for Dogs

Leslie Irvine, author of Filling the Ark speaks out about animal welfare in disasters.

Filling the Ark

Filling the Ark

On Wednesday, February 11, a team of trained disaster responders converged on a home in Sparta, Tennessee. The effort involved law enforcement and medical personnel, forensics investigators, and emergency relief vehicles loaded with supplies. Rescuers who entered the premises had to wear respirators and other protective equipment. Most of the victims required immediate medical attention. Four were found dead. Many victims were pregnant or nursing mothers. The rescue effort eventually involved over fourteen agencies in several states, along with dozens of volunteers. Rescuers transported the victims, who numbered nearly 300, to an emergency shelter at a local fairground. Many have since moved to temporary homes in other states. Even after they move into permanent homes, some of the victims will suffer the effects of trauma forever. The rescue cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and untold hours of work.

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