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New Books: April 2013
A selection from the most recent titles added to the SMCM Library
Beenstock presents a comprehensive survey of intergenerational and sibling correlations for a broad range of outcomes--including fertility and longevity, intelligence and education, income and consumption, and deviancy and religiosity. He then offers a critique of the sometimes conflicting explanations for these correlations proposed by social scientists from such disciplines as developmental psychology, sociology, and economics. Beenstock also provides an axiomatic framework for thinking about the complex interplay of heredity, family, and environments, drawing on game theory, control theory, and econometrics.
In Mating Intelligence Unleashed, psychologists Geher and Kaufman take readers on a fascinating tour of the crossroads of mating and intelligence, drawing on cutting-edge research on evolutionary psychology, intelligence, creativity, personality, social psychology, neuroscience, and more. The authors show that despite what you may read in the latest issue of Maxim, Playboy, Vogue, or GQ, physical attractiveness isn’t the whole story.
In Democracy of Sound, Alex Sayf Cummings uncovers the little-known history of music piracy and its sweeping effects on the definition of copyright in the United States. When copyright emerged, only visual material such as books and maps were thought to deserve protection; even musical compositions were not included until 1831. Once a performance could be captured on a wax cylinder or vinyl disc, profound questions arose over the meaning of intellectual property. Is only a written composition defined as a piece of art? If a singer performs a different interpretation of a song, is it a new and distinct work? Such questions have only grown more pressing with the rise of sampling and other forms of musical pastiche. Indeed, music has become the prime battleground between piracy and copyright.
A rare exploration of the racial and class politics of architecture, Little White Houses examines how postwar media representations associated the ordinary single-family house with middle-class whites to the exclusion of others, creating a powerful and invidious cultural iconography that continues to resonate today. Drawing from popular and trade magazines, floor plans and architectural drawings, television programs, advertisements, and beyond, Dianne Harris shows how the depiction of houses and their interiors, furnishings, and landscapes shaped and reinforced the ways in which Americans perceived white, middle-class identities and helped support a housing market already defined by racial segregation and deep economic inequalities
Embroidery in Colonial Boston tells the stories of six women and how needlework shaped their lives in the colonies' most important port city. From decidedly domestic origins, their embroideries soon became an economic force that promoted the silk trade and allowed entrepreneurial women and men to profit from selling supplies, drawing patterns and teaching young girls interested in this mode of expression. At once a historical overview, group biography and richly illustrated art book, this publication gives long deserved attention to a unique facet of American visual culture and women's history.
Ziff looks at eight classic examples of the all-American boy—young Washington, Rollo, Tom Bailey, Tom Sawyer, Ragged Dick, Peck's "bad boy," Little Lord Fauntleroy, and Penrod—as well as two notable antitheses—Huckleberry Finn and Holden Caulfield. Setting each boy in a rich cultural context, Ziff reveals how the all-American boy represented a response to his times, ranging from the newly independent nation's need for models of democratic citizenship, to the tales of rags-to-riches beloved during a century of accelerating economic competition, to the recognition of adolescence as a distinct phase of life, which created a stage on which the white, middle-class "solid citizen" boy and the alienated youth both played their parts.
The ancient Greeks discovered them, but it wasn't until the nineteenth century that irrational numbers were properly understood and rigorously defined, and even today not all their mysteries have been revealed. In The Irrationals, the first popular and comprehensive book on the subject, Julian Havil tells the story of irrational numbers and the mathematicians who have tackled their challenges, from antiquity to the twenty-first century. Along the way, he explains why irrational numbers are surprisingly difficult to define--and why so many questions still surround them.
In this overview of health and healing in early America, Elaine G. Breslaw describes the evolution of public health crises and solutions. Breslaw examines “ethnic borrowings” (of both disease and treatment) of early American medicine and the tension between trained doctors and the lay public. While orthodox medicine never fully lost its authority, Lotions, Potions, Pills, and Magic argues that their ascendance over other healers didn’t begin until the early twentieth century, as germ theory finally migrated from Europe to the United States and American medical education achieved professional standing.
This book offers a novel approach to food writing, presenting a history of eating habits and mores through the lens of the technologies we use to prepare, serve, and consume food. It tells the history of food through its tools across different eras and continents to present a fully rounded account of humans’ evolving relationship to kitchen technology. From the birth of the fork in Italy as it discovered pasta, to culture wars over shaped how and what we cook. Encompassing inventors, scientists, cooks and chefs, this is the previously unsung history of our kitchens.