Loafers, Adolescent Angst, Superheros and More
It may not be “publish or perish” for every writer, but the written word is central to the reinvention made possible by a university. These authors have published books in order to reinvent their fields, their genres or even themselves. UCR faculty member Tom Lutz used parents’ understandable consternation with an unemployed son to inspire his book “Doing Nothing: a History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America.” UCR alumnus Rigoberto Gonzalez writes his personal reinvention story “Butterfly Boy,” allowing outsiders to view his adolescent turmoil and eventual self-acceptance. And Stanley Stewart, longtime UCR English professor, takes on the unconventional examination of superheroes as a literary theme. The comic book cover is a super disguise for its textbook insides. This issue’s “Page Turners” includes all that and more.
Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America
By Tom Lutz, UCR associate professor of creative writing
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
May 2006, 384 pages
Couch potatoes, goof-offs, freeloaders, good-for-nothings, loafers and loungers. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, when the work ethic as we know it was formed, there has been a chorus of slackers ridiculing and lampooning the pretensions of hardworking respectability. Reviled by many, heroes to others, these layabouts stretch and yawn while the rest of society worries and sweats. Whenever the world of labor changes in significant ways, the pulpits, politicians and pedagogues ring with exhortations of the value of work, and the slackers answer with a strenuous call of their own. “To do nothing,” as Oscar Wilde said,“is the most difficult thing in the world.” From Benjamin Franklin’s “air baths” to Jack Kerouac’s “dharma bums” to Generation-X slackers and beyond, anti-work-ethic proponents have held a central place in modern culture.
Through a series of case studies that illuminates the changing pace of leisure in the American republic, “Doing Nothing” revises the way we understand slackers and work itself. Tom Lutz is an associate professor of creative writing at UCR. His previous books include “Crying: A Natural and Cultural History of Tears,” “American Nervousness, 1903: An Anecdotal History” and “Cosmopolitan Vistas.”
Translated with an essay by Ben Stoltzfus, UCR professor of comparative literature
September 2006, 128 pages
The unique relationship between French novelist and cinematographer Alain Robbe-Grillet and artist Jasper Johns that intertwined pop art and metafiction is explored in this interarts study. Robbe-Grillet and Johns, in their respective works of fiction and art, sought to bridge the gap between artist and observer through the interplay of image and narrative. “The Target,” Robbe-Grillet’s narrative introduction to John’s exhibit, attempts to express the theories of art by incorporating those theories used by Johns into his fiction.
By Susan Cummins Miller (’71, ’73, ’78 M.S.)
Texas Tech University Press
April 2006, 248 pages
As geologist Frankie MacFarlane prepares for her doctoral dissertation defense, two members of her committee are attacked, one fatally. Frankie must also deal with the possibility that her former fiance might still be alive and with the abduction of fellow student Dora Simpson. In the Mojave Desert, amid the arroyos and volcanic mesas of the Cady Mountains, Frankie finds the final pieces to these puzzles — and becomes the quarry. This is the third in a series.
Caped Crusaders 101: Composition Through Comic Books
By Stanley Stewart, UCR professor of English, and Jeffrey Kahan
McFarland and Co.
January 2006, 208 pages
This textbook is intended to inspire an appreciation for literature by studying important literary themes found in comics. By deconstructing comics, it encourages critical thinking about literature, a crucial skill for understanding language and composition. Chapters discuss DC, Marvel and other comics’ varied attempts at portraying race, politics, economics, business ethics and democracy, responses to the Cold War and the events of Sept. 11, and portrayals of prisons and capital punishment.
Global Social Change
Edited by Christopher Chase-Dunn, distinguished professor of sociology, and Salvatore J. Babones
Johns Hopkins University
Press — Baltimore
September 2006, 384 pages
The essays in “Global Social Change” explore globalization from a world-systems perspective and offer insights into globalization’s gradual and uneven growth throughout the course of human social evolution. Chase-Dunn and Babones bring together accomplished senior sociologists and outstanding younger scholars with a mix of interests, expertise and methodologies to offer an introduction to the ways of studying and understanding global social change.
Contemporary Social Psychological Theories
By Peter Burke, UCR professor of sociology Stanford University Press
May 2006, 400 pages
This book presents the most important and influential social psychological theories and research programs in contemporary sociology. Original chapters by the scholars who initiated and developed these theoretical perspectives provide full descriptions of each theory, its background, development and future. The first four chapters cover general approaches organized around fundamental principles and issues. The following chapters focus on specific research programs and theories. A concluding chapter provides an analysis of and commentary on the state of the theoretical programs in sociological social psychology.
Help Seeking in Academic Settings: Goals, Groups, and Contexts
Edited by Richard S. Newman, UCR professor of education, and Stuart A. Karabenick
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
March 2006, 336 pages
Help seeking is considered an important learning strategy that is linked to students’ achievement goals and academic performance. This volume not only provides answers to who, why and when learners seek help, but raises questions for readers to consider for future research. Building on Karabenick’s earlier volume, this book highlights trends in the area and gives expanded attention to applications to teaching and learning.
By Rigoberto Gonzalez (’92)
University of Wisconsin Press
June 2006, 222 pages
Heartbreaking, poetic and intensely personal, “Butterfly Boy” is a unique coming out and coming-of-age story of a first-generation Chicano who trades one life for another, only to discover that history and memory are not exchangeable or forgettable. Growing up among poor migrant Mexican farmworkers, Rigoberto Gonzalez also faces the pressure of coming-of-age as a gay man in a culture that prizes machismo. Losing his mother when he is 12, Gonzalez must confront his father’s abandonment and an abiding sense of cultural estrangement, both from his adopted home in the United States and from a Mexican birthright. His only sense of connection becomes forged in a violent relationship with an older man. By finding his calling as a writer, and by revisiting the relationship with his father during a trip to Mexico, Gonzalez finally claims his identity at the intersection of race, class and sexuality. The result is a leap of faith that every reader who ever felt like an outsider will immediately recognize.
By Kiril Tomoff, UCR assistant professor of history
Cornell University Press
June 2006, 321 pages
Why did the Stalin era, a period characterized by bureaucratic control and the reign of Socialist Realism in the arts, witness an upsurge of musical creativity and the prominence of musicians? This is one of the questions addressed in “Creative Union.” Drawing on previously untapped archives, Tomoff shows how the Union of Soviet Composers established control over the music profession and negotiated the relationship between composers and the Communist Party leadership.
Bring Everybody: Stories
By Dwight Yates, UCR creative writing lecturer
University of Massachusetts Press
April 2006, 143 pages
The winner of the 2005 Juniper Prize for Fiction, this collection of stories delivers the range of characters suggested in the title, many of them struggling to salvage situations they feel have been thrust upon them. Selfdelusion courts self-destruction in these stories, but not without relief, since revelation is always possible and redemption just might come tumbling after. The stakes are sometimes low and the circumstances more rueful than tragic.