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New Books: March 2012
A selection from the most recent titles added to the SMCM Library
"This book will shine light on some of the hard-to-reach places in the brain, showing the ways in which we are not the ones driving the boat. Why does the conscious mind know so little? What do visual illusions unmask about the machinery running under the hood? How much of our lives are determined by choices and behaviors that are hard-wired, unconscious, and beyond our control? Do we have any management over who we find gorgeous or repugnant? How is it possible to get angry at yourself: who exactly, is mad at whom? ... The emerging understanding of the brain drastically changes our view of ourselves, shifting us from an intuitive sense that we are at the center of the operations, to a more sophisticated, illuminating, and wondrous view of the situation"
The infamous emperor Caligula ruled Rome from A.D. 37 to 41 as a tyrant who ultimately became a monster. An exceptionally smart and cruelly witty man, Caligula made his contemporaries worship him as a god. He drank pearls dissolved in vinegar and ate food covered in gold leaf. He forced men and women of high rank to have sex with him, turned part of his palace into a brothel, and committed incest with his sisters.
"Based on new archival research, this book uniquely presents a fresh interrogation of how, among London’s fashionable society, dancing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was variously a means of social modelling, change, conformity and creative individual expression."
Over-the-counter (OTC) markets for derivatives, collateralized debt obligations, and repurchase agreements played a significant role in the global financial crisis. This title introduces OTC markets by explaining key conceptual issues and modeling techniques, and by providing readers with a foundation for advanced subjects in this field.
"Why did the Romans turn out in their tens of thousands to watch brutal gladiatorial games? Previous studies have tried to explain the attraction of the arena by theorizing about its cultural function in Roman society. The games have been seen as celebrations of the violence of empire or of Rome’s martial heritage, or as manifestations of the emperor’s power. The desire to watch has therefore been limited to the Roman context and rendered alien to modern sensibilities. Yet the historical record reveals that people living in quite different times and circumstances (including our own) have regularly come out in large numbers to watch public rituals of violence such as executions, floggings, animal-baiting, cudgeling, pugilism, and so on. Appreciating the social-psychological dynamics at work in attracting people to watch such events not only deepens our understanding of the spectator at the Roman games but also suggests something important about ourselves"
Technologies of History is an engrossing and innovative consideration of how history is constructed today, exploring our most basic relationship to history and the diverse contributions of visual and computational media to conceptions of the past. Embracing the varieties of history offered by experimental film, television, video games, and digital media, Steve F. Anderson mines the creative and discursive potential of this profane and esoteric historiography. He offers a highly readable and consistently fascinating discussion of historiography in visual media, with an emphasis on alternate or fantastic histories, including Star Trek time travel episodes, fake documentaries, films created from home movies and found footage, and video games about cultural traumas such as the siege at Waco and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Examining artifacts from the most commercial Hollywood product to the modernist avant-garde, this bold and ambitious polemic seeks to address historians, media scholars, and general readers alike, encouraging all to recognize, engage with, and perhaps even learn from these heterodox histories and the powerful sway they hold over our historical consciousness.
Can techniques traditionally thought to be outside the scope of literature, including word processing, databasing, identity ciphering, and intensive programming, inspire the reinvention of writing? The Internet and the digital environment present writers with new challenges and opportunities to reconceive creativity, authorship, and their relationship to language. Confronted with an unprecedented amount of texts and language, writers have the opportunity to move beyond the creation of new texts and manage, parse, appropriate, and reconstruct those that already exist.
"This year’s guest selector, Bechdel, opens with a terrific introduction that digs into the sense of awe felt by many underground vets on comic dom’s recent hyper development... The picks are a typical mix of heavy hitters in top form (Chris Ware, Joe Sacco, Jaime Hernandez, Jeff Smith), younger art-comics darlings (Dash Shaw, Kevin Huizenga), and a nice smattering of talented newcomers."
These essays trace the Western poem as it confronts indigenous alterity in Latin America. Rather than extend Western conceptions of writing in search of an alleged Amerindian ethno-literature, Ajéns approaches literature as a Western invention. This book discusses a wide range of indigenous American, Hispanic, and European texts, with a focus on language, authorship, genre, and translation
"A groundbreaking book providing a new take on three of cosmology’s most profound questions: What, if anything, came before the Big Bang? What is the source of order in our universe? What is the universe’s ultimate future? Current understanding of our universe dictates that all matter will eventually thin out to zero density, with huge black holes finally evaporating away into massless energy. Roger Penrose--one of the most innovative mathematicians of our time--turns around this predominant picture of the universe’s "heat death," arguing how the expected ultimate fate of our accelerating, expanding universe can actually be reinterpreted as the "Big Bang" of a new one.
Survey of 3,000 tropical plant species arranged in phylogenic order using the latest nomenclature and systematics. Each species entry has a detailed botanical description, zone information, distribution and ecology. Additional information includes propagation and cultivation notes.
In the 1960s and '70s, the popular diagnosis for America's problems was that society was becoming a madhouse. This title examines a time when many believed insanity was a sane reaction to absurd social conditions.