The Glass Universe

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel

QB 34.5 .S63 2016

“In the late nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or “human computers,” to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night. At the outset this group consisted of the wives, sisters, and daughters of the resident astronomers, but soon the female corps included graduates of the new women’s colleges – Vassar, Wellesley, Radcliffe, and Smith. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned from computation to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates.

The “glass universe” of half a million plates that Harvard amassed over the ensuing decades – through the generous support of Mrs. Anna Palmer Draper, the widow of a pioneer in stellar photography – enabled the women to make extraordinary discoveries that attracted worldwide acclaim. They helped discern what the stars were made of, divided the stars into meaningful categories for further research, and even found a way to measure distances across space by starlight. Their ranks included Williamina Fleming, a Scottish immigrant originally hired as a maid who went on to identify ten novae and more than three hundred variable stars; Annie Jump Cannon, who designed a stellar classification system that was adopted by astronomers the world over and is still in use today; and Dr. Cecilia Helena Payne, who in 1956 became the first woman professor of astronomy at Harvard – and Harvard’s first female department chair.

Elegantly written and enriched by excerpts from letters, diaries, and memoirs, The Glass Universe is the hidden history of the women whose contributions to the burgeoning field of astronomy forever changed our understanding of the stars and our place in the universe.”
– publisher description

The Platinum Age of Television

The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific by David Bianculli

PN 1992.3 .U5 B57 2016

“One of our best television critics explains – historically, in depth, and with probing interviews with the celebrated creators themselves – how the art of must-see/binge-watch television has evolved and why TV shows have eclipsed films as the premier form of visual narrative art in our time.

Darwin has his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli’s theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way. In tracing the evolution of our progress toward a Platinum Age of Television – our age, the era of The Sopranos and Breaking Bad and Mad Men and The Wire and Homeland and The Walking Dead and The Americans and Girls – he focuses on the development of classic TV genres, among them the sitcom (in three flavors), the crime show, the miniseries, the soap opera, the Western, the animated series, the medical drama, and the variety show. In each genre he selects five key examples of the form, tracing its continuities and its dramatic departures and drawing on exclusive and in-depth interviews with many of the most famed auteurs in television history. The interviewees include Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Larry David, Amy Schumer, Vince Gilligan, David Chase, Matthew Weiner, Carol Burnett, Aaron Sorkin, Louis C.K., and Larry Wilmore.

Television has triumphantly come of age artistically. What was once denounced as a “vast wasteland” now flourishes as a garden of art and entertainment for viewers of all ages and tastes. The Platinum Age of Television is the first book to date to examine in full detail, and with a keen critical and historical sense, how this inspiring development came about.”
– publisher description

We Were Feminists Once

We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement
by Andi Zeisler

HQ 1421 .Z46 2016

“Feminism has hit the big time. Once a dirty word brushed away with a grimace, “feminist” has been rebranded as a shiny label sported by movie and pop stars, fashion designers, and multi-hyphenate powerhouses like Beyoncé. It drives advertising and marketing campaigns for everything from wireless plans to underwear to perfume, presenting what’s long been a movement for social justice as just another consumer choice in a vast market. Individual self-actualization is the goal, shopping more often than not the means, and celebrities the mouthpieces.

But what does it mean when social change becomes a brand identity? Feminism’s splashy arrival at the center of today’s media and pop-culture marketplace, after all, hasn’t offered solutions to the movement’s unfinished business. Planned Parenthood is under sustained attack, women are still paid 77 percent – or less – of the man’s dollar, and vicious attacks on women, both on-and offline, are utterly routine.

Andi Zeisler, a founding editor of Bitch Media, draws on more than twenty years’ experience interpreting popular culture in this biting history of how feminism has been co-opted, watered down, and turned into a gyratory media trend. Surveying movies, television, advertising, fashion, and more, Zeisler reveals a media landscape brimming with the language of empowerment, but offering little in the way of transformational change. Witty, fearless, and unflinching, We Were Feminists Once is the story of how we let this happen, and how we can amplify feminism’s real purpose and power.”
– publisher description

Not Just Jane

Not Just Jane: Rediscovering Seven Amazing Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature
by Shelley DeWees

PR 111 .D49 2016

“You’ve likely read at least one Jane Austen novel. Chances are you’ve also read Jane Eyre; if you were an exceptionally moody teenager, you might have even read Wuthering Heights. English majors might add a couple of others to this list . . . but there the trail ends. Were there truly so few women writing anything of note during late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain?

In Not Just Jane, Shelley DeWees weaves history, biography, and critical analysis into a rip-roaring narrative of the nation’s fabulous, yet mostly forgotten, female literary heritage. Focusing on the creative contributions and personal stories of seven astonishing women – Charlotte Turner Smith, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Robinson, Catherine Crowe, Sara Coleridge, Dinah Mulock Craik, and Mary Elizabeth Braddon – DeWees assembles a riveting, intimate and ruthlessly unromanticized portrait of female life, and the literary landscape, during this era. In doing so, she comes closer to understanding how a society could forget so many of these women – among them pioneers of detective fiction and the modern fantasy novel – who all enjoyed success, critical acclaim, and a fair amount of notoriety during their time, and realizes why, now more than ever, it’s vital that we remember.”
– publisher description

They Can’t Kill Us All

They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement
by Wesley Lowery

E 185.86 .L69 2016

“Conducting hundreds of interviews over the course of more than one year of reporting on the ground, Washington Post writer Wesley Lowery traveled from Ferguson, Missouri to Cleveland, Ohio; Charleston, South Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland, and then back to Ferguson to uncover life inside the most heavily policed, if otherwise neglected, corners of America today.

In an effort to grasp the magnitude of the response to Michael Brown’s death and understand the scale of the problem police violence represents, Lowery speaks to Brown’s family and the families of other victims as well as local activists. By posing the question “What does the loss of any one life mean to the rest of the nation?” Lowery examines the cumulative effect of decades of racially biased policing in segregated neighborhoods with failing schools, crumbling infrastructure, and too few jobs.

Studded with moments of joy, and tragedy, They Can’t Kill Us All offers a historically informed look at the standoff between the police and those they are sworn to protect, showing that civil unrest is just one tool of resistance in the broader struggle for justice. As Lowery brings vividly to life, the protests against police killings are also about the black community’s long history on the receiving end of perceived and actual acts of injustice and discrimination. They Can’t Kill Us All grapples with a persistent if largely unexamined aspect of the otherwise transformative presidency of Barack Obama: the failure to deliver tangible security and opportunity to those Americans most in need of both.”
– publisher description

Walk Through Walls

Walk Through Walls: A Memoir by Marina Abramović

N 7253 .A27 A2 2016

“In 2010, more than 750,000 people stood in line at Marina Abramović’s MoMA retrospective for the chance to sit across from her and communicate non-verbally in an unprecedented durational performance that lasted more than 700 hours. This celebration of nearly fifty years of groundbreaking performance art demonstrated once again that Marina Abramović is truly a force of nature.

The child of Communist war-hero parents under Tito’s regime in postwar Yugoslavia, she was raised with a relentless work ethic. Even as she was beginning to build an international artistic career, Marina lived at home under her mother’s abusive control, strictly obeying a 10 p.m. curfew. But nothing could quell her insatiable curiosity, her desire to connect with people, or her distinctly Balkan sense of humor – all of which informs her art and her life. The beating heart of Walk Through Walls is an operatic love story – a twelve-year collaboration with fellow performance artist Ulay, much of which was spent penniless in a van traveling across Europe – a relationship that began to unravel and came to a dramatic end atop the Great Wall of China.

Marina’s story, by turns moving, epic, and dryly funny, speaks to an incomparable artistic career that involves pushing her body past the limits of fear, pain, exhaustion, and danger in an uncompromising quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. A remarkable work of performance in its own right, Walk Through Walls is a vivid and powerful rendering of the unparalleled life of an extraordinary artist.”
– publisher description

Another Day in the Death of America

Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives
by Gary Younge

HN 90 .V5 Y675 2016

“On an average day in America, seven children and teens will be shot dead. In Another Day in America, award-winning journalist Gary Younge tells the stories of the lives lost during one such day. It could have been any day, but he chose November 23, 2013. Black, white, and Latino, aged nine to nineteen, they fell at sleepovers, street corners, in stairwells, and on their own doorsteps. From the rural Midwest to the barrios of Texas, the narrative crisscrosses the country over a period of twenty-four hours to reveal the full human stories behind the gun-violence statistics and the brief mentions in local papers of lost lives.

This powerful and moving work puts a human face – a child’s face – on the “collateral damage” of gun deaths across the country. This is not a book about gun control, but about what happens in a country where it does not exist. What emerges in these pages is a searing and urgent portrait of youth, family, and firearms in America today.”
– publisher description