Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, curator of the Cinema Archives, reflected on the life of actress Lauren Bacall, who died this week at age 89. When Bacall’s acting career began as a young woman in the 1940s, Basinger said, “She was a legend from the very first minute…And she was so unique–her looks, her style, her voice.”
Although Bacall was dismissed by some critics early on, Basinger said, the longevity and quality of her career proved that she “wasn’t just an appendage to Humphrey Bogart.”
The Shelf, a new book by Phyllis Rose, professor of English, emeritus, was featured as an “Editor’s Choice” in The Chicago Tribune. The review praises Rose’s “brilliant, generous counterintuitive voice” in this literary experiment, through which Rose attempts to “un-curate her reading life” and bring back the joy of random discovery that was lost with the extinction of the library card catalogue.
The reviewer explains: “The beauty of her idea lay in its arbitrary quality, the uniqueness appealed to her — that no one else in the history of the world had read this particular set of novels. She wanted a mix of new and old, women and men, and maybe a classic she had been meaning to read. In books, and in life, Phyllis Rose was after spontaneity, inclusiveness and uniqueness.”
Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, curator of cinema archives, reviewed in The Chicago Tribune a new book containing conversations between the former movie star Ava Gardner and Peter Evans, the man she hired to ghost write her never-completed autobiography. Titled, “Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations,” the book proves that Gardner still has the power to seduce and fascinate, years after her death.
“Her story is a raw-nerved revelation of what can happen to a naive young girl who becomes a sex symbol but forgets she’s supposed to flame out and die young,” writes Basinger.
Commenting in a story appearing in The Chicago Tribune and the AP, Alex Dupuy, Chair, African America Studies Program, Class of 1958 Professor of Sociology, says despite the hundreds of millions of dollars of aid that poured into Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, it’s difficult to see any signs of reconstruction. “I haven’t seen any concrete evidence of recovery underway,” he says.
In a recent story inThe Chicago Tribune profiles Tasmiha Khan ’12 a psychology and neuroscience and behavior major, who has founded the nonprofit organization Brighter Dawns, which brings clean water to impoverished residents in Bangladesh. Khan, whose organization has been awarded grants from The Dell Innovation program, the DoSomething foundation, and the Davis Projects for Peace foundation, learned first hand about the difficulty to get fresh water in the dirt floor homes of Bangledesh after a family trip to the country. She has since provided thousands of water sanitation kits, as well as diabetes kits, nutritional screening, and other preventative health care methods. Khan’s work has also been featured in The Wesleyan Connection here, and here.
In a piece for The Chicago Tribune, Kirk Swinehart, assistant professor of history, reviews First Family: Abigail and John Adams by Joseph Ellis. The book chronicles the two intertwining lives through the more than 1,100 letters they wrote to each other. The couple’s deep and enduring love is explored from its outset, along with their family life, the events leading up to and beyond the American Revolution, as well as Adams’ presidency. Swinhart says that “with ‘First Family,’ Ellis brings to seven the number of deep excursions he has had made into founders’ land. And, once again, he has returned bearing gifts.”
In The Chicago Tribune, Kirk Swinehart, assistant professor of history, reviews November Criminals, the anticipated debut novel by Sam Munson. The book is told from the perspective of Addison Schacht, an intelligent high school senior who is “a motherless crackerjack Latin student and smalltime pot dealer from ‘a tree-heavy upper-middle-class neighborhood in Washington, D.C.’ ” By the way, Schacht also wants to go to college and is working on his application essay, which focuses on the question: “What are your best and worst qualities?.” Munson takes the set-up and creates, according to Swinehart, “one of the funniest, most heartfelt novels in recent memory—a book every bit as worthy of Mark Twain and J. D. Salinger—about the goodwill and decency that sometimes shrouds itself in adolescent vulgarity and swagger.”
The Chicago Tribune featured a review by Kirk Swinehart, assistant professor of history, of Louis Menand’s latest book, The Marketplace of Ideas, which examines American universities. Menand, a faculty member at Harvard University as well as a staff writer at The New Yorker, examines the forces that have shaped these institutions, especially in the last few decades. Swinehart writes that “To anyone who has spent time on the inside, as they say, The Marketplace of Ideas is alternately bracing and chilling.” He says that Menand writes with the same “wry elan” that made his last book so good, and that The Marketplace of Ideas is “deeply relevant.”
In The Chicago Tribiune, Kirk Swinehart, assistant professor of history, reviews the new novel by Jonathan Dee titled, The Privileges. Swinehart writes “Jonathan Dee has written, among many other things, a riveting book about the new American family and the atomizing pressures of modern life. ‘The Privileges’ may be our finest guide yet to gracious living in the 21st century,” and that the main characters, Adam and Cynthia Morey, “finally resemble no one so much as ourselves.”
In The Chicago Tribune, Assistant Professor of History Kirk Swinehart reviews Dorthea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits, by Linda Gordon. Despite enduring attempts to wrap Lange in larger than life folklore and mystique, Gordon says that the pioneering photographer from the last century saw herself less as a proto feminist and “artist” and more of a working photojournalist, albeit, one who enjoyed the limelight. According to Swinehart, “In its grace, precision, and infinite subtlety, Gordon’s biography resembles Lange herself. Indeed, the whole is founded on a bedrock of human decency that Lange would have admired.”
In a review published in The Chicago Tribune, Kirk Swinehart, assistant professor of history, praises Unlikely Allies, the new book by Joel Richard Paul. Swinehart says Paul’s book breaks new ground detailing stories of little-known spies from the American Revolution and yet it also contains the “menacing atmospherics of an Allen Furst novel, and the intellectual verve for which Furst’s spy thrillers are justly admired.”
Kirk Swinehart, assistant professor of history, reviews the new book by New Yorker staff writer Tad Friend titled, Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor. Writing for The Chicago Tribune, Swinehart says Friend” has written the memoir of the season–and one for all time. ‘Cheerful Money’ doubles as a bittersweet family portrait and deceptively subtle ethnography.”