Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Soft Foods, Sex In A Canoe, Translation, Hate Speech, and Fighting Over Words - "New" Books At The UAA Library

I'm back in LA to check up on my mom - a night flight that leaves me a little sleepy.  But my mom sounds like my mom again which is much better than the way I left her last week.  Before I left Anchorage late last night, I took some books back to the UAA library and checked out the new book section.

I'm not recommending any of these because I haven't read them, but the point is to remind folks that there's lots of interesting stuff out there.  People with a regular Municipal library card can check books out at UAA.  (Or even from your local library.)  This is just a small sampling of what's there.  I also noticed, doing this post, that what's new to the University of Alaska Anchorage's Consortium Library, isn't necessarily a new book.  One was published in 2007.

Also, as you look at these, think about guidelines you'd offer publishers about book covers. 

 I lumped these first three together because they all are connected to words (or speech).  The first, Roger Shuy's Fighting Over Words:  Language and Civil Law Cases.  A Times Higher Education 2008 review says, in part:
Fighting over Words is a short book, packed with corporate cases. These range from contract disputes and deceptive trade practices, through product liability, copyright infringement, discrimination, trademarks and fraud. The legal categories group together complex lived experiences in which language became a crux of dispute: whether, as an insurer maintained, an airline pilot's final words before a fatal crash showed evidence of having been overcome by toxic gas in the cockpit; whether, in a housing case, people's ability to recognise ethnic accents on the telephone offered a means of racial discrimination; whether warning statements provided with a potentially dangerous product were comprehensible and sufficiently prominent; whether a company's public pronouncements showed a tendency towards age discrimination in employment; whether a contractor misrepresented its cost calculations in bidding for a government military aviation contract. It is impossible to read through such actions without constant toing and froing between the case in hand and general issues in corporate and governmental communication that make such cases topical.
Clearly related to the recent post I had on the Asiana crash in San Francisco. 

 Words, Images, and Performances in Translation, edited by Rita Wilso and Brigit Maher, is summarized by the publisher, Bloomsbury:
This volume presents fresh approaches to the role that translation – in its many forms – plays in enabling and mediating global cultural exchange. As modes of communication and textual production continue to evolve, the field of translation studies has an increasingly important role in exploring the ways in which words, images and performances are translated and reinterpreted in new socio-cultural contexts. The book includes an innovative mix of literary, cultural and intersemiotic perspectives and represents a wide range of languages and cultures. The contributions are all linked by a shared focus on the place of translation in the contemporary world, and the ways in which translation, and the discipline of translation studies, can shed light on questions of inter- and hypertextuality, multimodality and globalization in contemporary cultural production.
This is a topic near and dear to my heart - something I dealt with first hand doing research in China with my Hong Kong students able to tell me later what really was said when the official translator strayed.  Actually, my students disagreed with each other, highlighting that the miscommunication is already in the original language and only compounded by going to another language.

The last of the first three, Jeremy Waldron's The Harm In Hate Speech appears to be a response to those who reject hate speech laws as contrary to the First Amendment.  You can read more about the book at Harvard University Press and get links to podcasts of the author.  There are also links to responses to his book. 

There was a bunch of Alaska related books.  Below are just a few.

Leff Continuity turns out to have been published in 2007 and the back said it was about a woman's adventure with her husband to Alaska followed fairly closely by her husband's death and her life in Alaska since.

The bluish volume is one of several theses by APU students.  This one is by Leeann B. Tyree and is titled Teaching Literacy - today and tomorrow, Literacy Vocabulary Development for Students and Teacher Practices - Grades 4-12 in Rural Alaska.

Cracking the Code is a small handbook by Cindy Roberts that is an attempt to give people an overview of the gas pipeline proposal(s?). 

There were two cookbooks on soft foods:  The Dysphagia Cookbook and Soft Foods for Easier Eating. 

I have to believe there's a reason why there are two books on this topic. 

This next one  On Extinction:  How We Became Estranged From Nature.  by Melanie Challenger looked interesting, The Guardian only gave it a so-so review::
Challenger's privilege is great, her courage exemplary, and no one could doubt her passion. This book is an urgent attempt to understand how we got into this mess, and how we might go forward, knowing that we are capable of causing, and of feeling, great loss. Assiduous editing might have helped, because while Challenger has a good eye and a nice turn of phrase, there is a piling up of references that seems born more of anxiety than erudition.

 Here are a couple about Soviet literature and theater.

Here's a short excerpt from an interview with TV on Strike author, a Variety deputy editor, at the Syracuse University Press:
“The book looks at the upheaval in the television business during the past decade through the prism of the 100-day strike by the Writers Guild of America in late 2007-early 2008. The strike was a fight about many of the issues that are roiling Hollywood – digital distribution, changing viewer behavior, competition from lower-cost entertainment alternatives and shrinking margins in traditional profit centers. I realized about a month after the strike ended that the story of the conflict, and the colorful characters who drove it, provided the perfect framework to examine what would otherwise be an unwieldy subject, namely the transformation of the television business.”

Did you forget to think about guidelines for good book covers?

It seems to me that there are two critical goals:
  • making the title and the author's name easy to read 
  • Some short description (or visual hint) about the topic 
The title of this last book,  The Great White North, meets those criteria.  I was totally misled by the title, but the subtitle pulled me back to what the author intended.    From a review at Alternatives Journal:
". . . Repeating an old saw, Margaret Wente previously wrote that what makes someone Canadian is having sex in a canoe. Maybe new immigrants should be taught to canoe, Wente said, so they could be more patriotic.
The editors of this book took her to task in their introduction. They wrote that this perception, “Canada = Canoeing,” was just one of the ways a European colonial mentality permeates both our sense of nation and nature. Wente lashed back in the pages of the broadsheet. I hope environmentalists will listen better than she did. .  .
Two early chapters contrast the way “nature” was moralized around ethnicity. City planners in Toronto at the turn of the 20th century advocated the creation of parks to “civilize” and Canadianize new immigrants. Nature was “good.”
The next chapter, an analysis of the rhetoric around Toronto’s SARS outbreak in 2005, demonstrates nature as “bad” or a threat. Media reports highlighted the virus’ origin in Asia, and as fear rose, nature – via SARS – became equated with the immigrants being a threat. Life-saving nurses were reframed as immigrant or ethnic nurses putting “us” at risk by possibly passing on the pathogen. "
 Just that little bit from the review is making me think about the divide between urban and rural Alaska, between Native and non-Native Alaska, and the role of immigration - which still means to most non-Native Alaskans, non-white immigrants and not non-Native immigrants. 

And stepping back a bit, for a more apt comparison to the book, how does  the Canadian mythology of the Great White North compare to the Lower 48 myths about Alaska? 


  1. Thanks for this book roundup. I think I'm going to read a couple of them that I hadn't heard of before: Fighting Over Words and TV on Strike.

  2. I want to read those two as well. Let me know how good they are. I still have a big stack to get through.


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