MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences soundings
Fall 2004 [ Previous issues ]

Book and CD notes

Stephen Alter, Elephas Maximus: A Portrait of the Indian Elephant. Harcourt 2004. This book explores the mythology and natural history of India's elephants. It contains first-hand descriptions of elephants in the wild and captivity, as well as a discussion of their place in art, literature, religion and science. Stephen Alter is Writer-in-Residence in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies.

Michael M.J. Fischer, Mute Dreams, Blind Owls, and Dispersed Knowledges: Persian Poesis in the Transnational Circuitry. Duke University Press, 2004. Fischer argues that the widespread appeal of Iranian cinema is based in a poetics that speaks not only to Iran's domestic cultural political but also to the more general ethical dilemmas of a world simultaneously torn apart and pushed together. Michael M.J. Fischer is Professor of Anthropology and Science and Technology Studies in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society and the Anthropology Program.

Hugh Gusterson, People of the Bomb: Portraits of America's Nuclear Complex. University of Minnesota Press, 2004. This book tells the story of how-like it or not, know it or not-we have become "the people of the bomb." Integrating fifteen years of field research at weapons laboratories across the United States with discussion of popular movies, political speeches, media coverage of war, and the arcane literature of defense intellectuals, Gusterson shows how the military-industrial complex has built consent for its program and, in the process, taken the public nuclear. Hugh Gusterson is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Science Studies in the Anthropology Program and Program in Science, Technology, and Society.

Joe Haldeman, Camouflage. Ace Books, 2004. An unidentified artifact, found seven miles below the surface of the sea, stumps the scientists examining it. But it calls out to two immortal creatures who have wandered the Earth for centuries. Two creatures who have never crossed paths—until now . . . . Joe Haldeman is Adjunct Professor in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies.

Frederick Harris, Jr., conductor, Waking Winds, Innova Recordings, 2004. Recent works for winds, including works by Peter Child ("Concertino for Violin and Chamber Winds"), Brian Robison ("The Congress of the Insomniacs"), and Evan Ziporyn ("Drill"), performed by the MIT Wind Ensemble with various soloists, including Professor Ziporyn. Professor Child also contributed the liner notes for the recording. Frederick Harris, Jr. is Lecturer in Music and Director of Wind and Jazz Ensembles; Peter Child is Professor of Music; Brian Robison is Assistant Professor of Music; Evan Ziporyn is Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music and Head of the Music and Theater Arts Section.

Thomas P. Hughes, Human-Built World: How to Think about Technology and Culture. University of Chicago Press, 2004. To most Americans, technology has been reduced to computers, consumer goods, and weapons. In this book, Hughes restores to technology the richness and depth it deserves by chronicling the ideas about technology expressed by influential Western thinkers who not only understood its multifaceted character but who also explored its creative potential. Thomas P. Hughes is Distinguished Visiting Professor of the History of Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society.

Martin Marks, Music Curator, More Treasures From American Film Archives, 1894–1931. National Film Preservation Foundation, 2004. A set of three DVDs, presenting 50 films with newly recorded music, including soundtracks by Peter Child ("Skyscraper Symphony"), Brian Robison ("Cockeyed"), and Charles Shadle ("Rip Van Winkle"). Martin Marks is Senior Lecturer in Music; Peter Child is Professor of Music; Brian Robison is Assistant Professor of Music; Charles Shadle is Lecturer in Music.

Charity Scribner, Requiem for Communism. MIT Press, 2003. Writers and artists from Europe's second world have responded to the last socialist crisis with works that range from sober description to melancholic fixation. Scribner examines the politics of memory in postindustrial literature and art in the first survey of this cultural field. Charity Scribner is Assistant Professor of European Cultural Studies in the Foreign Languages and Literatures Section.

Susan Silbey and Herbert Kritzer (eds.) In Litigation: Do the 'Haves' Still Come Out Ahead. Stanford University Press, 2003. In Litigation provides a thorough presentation of the most durable theory explaining litigation and legal participation that social science scholarship has produced. Susan Silbey is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology in the Anthropology Program.

Emma Jinhua Teng, Taiwan's Imagined Geography: Chinese Colonial Travel Writing and Pictures, 1683–1895. Harvard University Asia Center, 2004. Teng argues that travelers' accounts and pictures of frontiers such as Taiwan led to a change in the imagined geography of the Chinese empire. In representing distant lands and ethnically diverse peoples of the frontiers to audiences in China proper, these works transformed places once considered non-Chinese into familiar parts of the empire and thereby helped to naturalize Qing expansionism. Emma Jinhua Teng is Class of 1956 Career Development Professor of Chinese Studies in the Foreign Languages and Literatures Section.



Message from Dean Khoury


Ten things you probably
didn't know about SHASS . . .
but will be glad you learned!

A language is reborn


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