The New American

The New American

In her debut novel, Three Apples Fell from Heaven, Marcom explored the traumatic aftermath of the Armenian genocide through the imagined thoughts and feelings of those left behind. Here, she pens a poetic reflection on deportation, immigration, and the abstract notion of home. The story follows Emilio, a young Guatemalan American college student who is deported and must make his way back to his family in California. Written in the third person, the narrative unfolds through Emilio’s inner thoughts as he moves with bands of immigrants across the landscape of Mexico. Enduring the endless brutality of the terrain, as well as a recurring cycle of violence at multiple stops along the journey, Emilio finds solidarity with his fellow travelers and begins to dissociate from his long-understood identity as an American. Interwoven into each section of the narrative are his memories of the past and his dreams for the future, which slowly evolve into the singular present. Marcom has penned a lyrical mediation on being and becoming, identity and anonymity, and the ambiguity of place.

Reference Librarianship & Justice: Critical Interventions

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Reference Librarianship & Justice: Critical Interventions
Book Launch Celebration and Discussion

Friday, March 8
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Happy hour with beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and snacks to follow

Join us for a half day event to celebrate the recent publication of Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice and Praxis.

METRO Library Council, along with the book’s editors, are hosting a dialogue and happy hour to continue the conversation on the history, application, and critical dimensions of reference services.

In the book and in this event, we stake out and explore the terrain of a critical, social-justice oriented, purposeful, and engaged reference practice. How and when do reference work and justice work overlap? What steps can be taken to further a reference practice that seeks justice? These questions, among many others, will be discussed through panels, lightning rounds, and breakout sessions.

12:30 p.m.
Doors open

1:15 p.m. – 1:55 p.m.
Panel Discussion: Social Justice and Reference
Panelists: Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, and Eamon Tewell

2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Presentations & Panel Discussion: Reference Services and Incarcerated People
Panelists: Mia Bruner, Joshua Finnell, and Emily Jacobson

2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Break

3:00 p.m. – 3:55 p.m.
Lightning Rounds: The History and Praxis of Reference and Justice
Speakers: Jeff Hirschy, Michelle Nitto, Carrie Forbes, and Haruko Yamauchi

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Breakout Sessions: Exploring the Practice of Reference and Justice
Facilitator: Julia Marden

5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Happy hour with beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and snacks

 

 

 

A Shout in the Ruins

Powers’s debut novel, The Yellow Birds, a National Book Award finalist, offered a downloadpoignant rumination on America’s reverence for patriotism but simultaneous amnesia regarding the lives of deployed soldiers in a story drawn from the author’s own experience as an Iraq War veteran. This second novel, set in Powers’s hometown of Richmond, VA, probes the grip of traumatic memory in the aftermath of the Civil War. While former Confederate soldiers roam the backdrop of this work with conflicting convictions dictating their actions in a newly liberated South, former slaves are navigating the concept of freedom within the lingering structures of oppression. Meanwhile, a former plantation owner tries to harness Reconstruction to his advantage only to discover that redemption will not be his fate. Returning to this land, almost 100 years later, a man born shortly after the end of the war struggles to claim his memories of home. VERDICT A masterly meditation on our unbreakable connection to a world predicated on cyclical violence.

A Terrible Country

In his debut novel, All the Sad Young Literary Men, Gessen penned a passing nod to F. Scott Fitzgerald with an autobiographical tale of three writers struggling to turn their 9780735221314.jpgliterary ambitions into a lasting legacy. Similar themes from Gessen’s life emerge here, as the author ruminates on the complexities of his homeland from the perspective of floundering academic and Russian expat Andrei Kaplan. With few job prospects and the high cost of living in New York City, Andrei returns to Moscow, his birthplace, to care for his grandmother, improve his hockey skills, and decide whether the academic life is worth the trouble. Navigating Russian culture as he moves between his grandmother’s recollections of the USSR and his newfound revolutionary friends, he is caught between the ideologies of Putin’s Russia and the Western liberalism that underpinned both his upbringing and his education. When the possibility of a romantic relationship presents itself, Andrei discovers his own narrative paralleling that of Mother Russia: cling to a past that is gone or strive for a future that may never materialize? VERDICT With wit and humor, Gessen delivers a heartwarming novel about the multitudinous winding roads that lead us home.

The Overstory

Standing as silent witnesses to our interweaving genealogies, cyclical wars, and collapsing empires, trees contain our collective history in addition to our climate record. Here, the acclaimed Powers (Orfeo; The Time of Our Singing) employs literary dendrochronology to weave the stories of nine strangers connected through their 61WowQ0d7YL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgcollective action in preventing a forest from falling to industrial harvesting and ruination. From a chestnut in Iowa to a banyan in Vietnam, trees function as a central theme for each character’s backstory. As a corollary, foliage becomes a multivalent symbol of family struggle, divine intervention, and community. Just as Douglas firs connect their underground root structures to provide mutual support and protection, each character moves across disparate landscapes to find him- or herself joined in solidarity against an unstoppable force of environmental destruction. VERDICT Whereas Powers dissected the human brain’s mysterious capacity to prescind subject from object in his National Book Award—winning The Echo Makers, here he pens a deep meditation on the irreparable psychic damage that manifests in our unmitigated separation from nature.

Anatomy of a Miracle

Satire at its best is constructive social criticism, and Miles (Dear American Airlines; Want Not) is perfecting this craft in the 21st century. Outside a convenience store in Biloxi, MS, +-+0090328656_140Cameron Harris waits in his wheelchair while his sister runs in to buy beer. Cameron is an alcoholic. Cameron is a paraplegic. Cameron is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. And, on this day, as he stands up and begins to walk, Cameron becomes a miracle. His hermetic life is soon turned upside down with floods of prayer requests and a reality television crew following him around. While Cameron’s doctor searches for a scientific explanation for his recovery in the medical literature, the Vatican dispatches an officer from the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints to open an investigation. As the world focuses on the mystery of his recovery, Cameron struggles to conceal a long-held secret that complicates our understanding of divine agency. VERDICT With sincerity and wit, Miles pens a strong, sardonic rumination on the religious boundaries of the miraculous.

American Histories

Throughout his decorated literary career, Wideman (Sent for You Yesterday; Philadelphia Fire) has compiled an extended meditation on how we are able to heal by transmuting personal and historical facts into constant reimagining. This sprawling collection of short +-+864814434_140stories is an unapologetic resurrection of those facts in today’s political climate, with Wideman’s introduction addressed directly to the president of the United States. The author returns to the streets of Pittsburgh and his childhood memories, envisions a conversation between John Brown and Frederick Douglass, and probes the popular culture we use to escape, forget, and grieve. Each story is a parallel universe just out of reach, with the whole assembled like shards of broken glass. Interspersing pieces that include microfictions like “Bunny and Glide” and prose poems like “Snow,” Wideman elucidates loneliness and helplessness with lyrical economy and rhythmic sadness. VERDICT A deeply personal collection of stories illuminating the thinning and cyclical threads of history that both sustain us and tear us apart.

All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire

With the premiere of The Deuce on HBO, interest in the work of David Simon has been 51+RD8FOqBL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_reignited, and The Wire is his magnum opus. Journalist and author Abrams (Boys Among Men) delves deep into the show’s creation and enduring legacy through interviews with the actors, writers, and producers who brought the show to life. Whether it’s Dominic West reflecting on the allure of his character Detective James McNulty or actor Michael B. Jordan discussing the lasting impression of being in an ensemble cast of primarily black actors, Abrams underscores the indelible mark the show has left on actors and audience alike. Weaving all the interviews together is the enduring connection between the city of Baltimore and the creators of the show, a city that David Simon and the writers of The Deuce recently visited for inspiration. VERDICT Building upon Rafael Alvarez’s The Wire: Truth Be Told, the author further underscores the reasons why the show is often referred to as the greatest of all time.

A Long Way From Home

Carey-Swoosh-thumbOne of Australia’s greatest authors, two-time Booker Prize winner Carey (Oscar and Lucinda; True History of the Kelly Gang) has drawn inspiration from his native country throughout his career, weaving historical and fantastical tales ranging from the 1942 Battle of Brisbane to transporting a glass church from Sydney to Bellingen. Here, he uses the famous Redex Trial, a cross-country car race, to probe the unfurling legacy of colonialism in 1950s Australia. Desperate to acquire his own dealership, Titch Bobs sees both fame and financial windfall in winning the Redex Trial. With wife Irene as his copilot and neighbor Willie as navigator, he sets off across Australia’s unfinished roads and rural landscape. While Titch remains intensely focused on winning the race, Irene and Willie uncover painful personal histories along the way that intertwine with Australia’s forgotten people and communities. VERDICT Carey employs both a multivoice narrative and a continent-spanning car race to emulate the disparate voices and fits and starts that comprise Australia’s history.

The Afterlives

In his first story collection, Hall of Small Animals, Pierce penned a phenomenological 510dPPHKbeL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_meditation on the ephemeral and recurrent experiences that form the core of human existence. Here, in his debut novel, he reflects on life after death through the prism of quantum physics. A paranormal event on a staircase in town leads Jim Byrd on a journey to uncover the history of the home’s residents and the probability of supernatural phenomena. In this quest, he dabbles in New Age religion, falls in love, loses his father, and stumbles upon the ideas of discredited physicist Sally Zinker, who claims to have built a machine that can access the afterlife. Jim, along with his wife, Annie, eventually tracks down both Sally and the mythic Reunion Machine. Not sure who or what to trust, they both must ultimately weigh the possibility of a multiverse against the risk of vanquishing their accumulated experiences and memories in this one. VERDICT Pierce has a gift for probing the limits of the psychic realm to uncover the benevolence that manifests from metaphysical insight. Truly remarkable.

MLA Bibliography Fellowship Award

The awards ceremony will take place at 7:00 p.m. on January 6th in the New York Hilton (West Ballroom, third floor). MLA Executive Director Paula M. Krebs will present the MLA International Bibliography Fellowship Awards and announce the recipients of the seal of approval from the Committee on Scholarly Editions.

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Phone

Few John Updike fans would enjoy Self’s splintered, swirling narratives. Yet drug-addled coverpsychiatrist Zach Busner, a recurring character in Self’s fiction, is startlingly similar to Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom in his inability to process new forms of eroticism and spirituality as the stability of a world founded in modernist principles crumbles around him. Here, in the final book of the trilogy begun with Umbrella and Shark, Self probes the absurdity of the information age through two seemingly disparate narratives: the trials and tribulations of a wayward spy engaged in an affair with a tank commander, and the struggle of Zach’s family to provide for him as he ages. Set against the backdrop of the Second Gulf War, Self’s story lines are folded into a meditation on the meaning of a “double life” in a technology-soaked era. Bewildered by a world of spiritual decay and hyperconnectedness, Zach (like Rabbit) ultimately runs from himself. VERDICT The narrative reads and feels like an endless data stream, underscoring Self’s deliberate attempt to bury the reader in an avalanche of information. A sardonic end to Self’s modernist trilogy.

Green

As a member of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign staff, Graham- Felsen helped articulate Obama’s message of empathy and cooperative change across social media outlets. Here, in his debut novel, he weaves those themes into a story about two 9780399591143friends navigating adolescence across the racial divide. Nicknamed Green, Dave is one of the few white kids attending Martin Luther King Middle School in Boston. His life is occupied with a daily struggle to fit in, which extends from his clothing to his demeanor. Through a shared admiration for Larry Bird and the Celtics, a black classmate named Marlon becomes one of Dave’s only friends and allies. Together, they manage the awkwardness of middle school under constant pressure to succeed from parents, teachers, and the larger community. As Marlon and Dave form their own individual identities, however, their similarities slowly become eclipsed by their differences, from family backgrounds to life goals. VERDICT Based on Graham-Felsen’s childhood in Boston in the 1990s, this work poignantly captures the tumultuous feelings of adolescence against the historical backdrop of a racially segregated city and country.

Stages of Change: Dialogue in a Liberal Arts Context

2017-10-16_13-23-20This event brings together faculty, staff, and students from Colgate, New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium schools, and others from Central New York region for a day of forums and workshops, to share research and best practices for using Intergroup Dialogue (IGD) to improving campus climate through curricular and co-curricular intellectual and community engagement. The name, “Stages of Change,” refers to the IGD 4-Stage dialogic process.

Crimes of the Father

Perhaps best known for the Booker Prize-winning Schindler’s Ark, released here as Schindler’s List and later adapted into an Academy Award-winning film, Australian1479080012982 novelist Keneally’s literary career spans six prolific decades and more than 30 novels. This book harkens back to both a theme in his first novel, The Place at Whitton, and to his career path before becoming a writer: the Catholic priesthood. The novel opens with Father Frank Docherty in a cab, returning to his hometown of Sydney, Australia, to visit his elderly mother after being sent to Canada for his outspoken views. A terse and confrontational conversation with the cab driver uncovers a sexual abuse scandal centered on the church’s revered defender, Monsignor Leo Shannon. As Docherty identifies the victims and reveals the truth, he begins challenging a hierarchy and power structure that has sanctified and defined his own existence. VERDICT Through the mind of his aggrieved and conflicted protagonist, Keneally pens an unflinching meditation on the ways in which canonical scripture, sacred tradition, and human conscience often coalesce to distort basic moral truths.

Looking Forward, Looking Back: The Evolution of Digital Scholarship

2017-bucknell-university-digital-scholarship-keynote-1080x380As colleges and universities commit more resources and staff in support of digital scholarship, they also face the challenge of creating sustainable programs. Despite the increase in faculty and staff hires, the growing demand for a range of technical expertise means that many institutions are continually working at or over capacity. Further, as faculty become more engaged in using digital methods and tools in their research, they look for ways to incorporate digital approaches in the classroom. Introducing students to digital scholarship is one way to increase capacity for this type of work on campus while simultaneously providing students with skills that will serve them as they move forward in their careers. The pre-conference workshop brought together a range of digital scholarship practitioners engaged in the question of how we create innovative and meaningful opportunities for students to learn digital methods and tools in order to facilitate learning, collaborate with faculty, and expand their own research interests.

The pre-conference attendees met on Friday, October 6, to discuss various approaches to student engagement in digital scholarship. The outcome is a public website that presents best practices, case studies, and other resources.

Participants in the Pre-Conference:

  • Lee Skallerup Bessette, University of Mary Washington
  • Joshua Finnell, Colgate University
  • Sarah Hartman-Caverly, Delaware County Community College
  • Aaron Mauro, Penn State, Erie
  • Megan Mitchell, Oberlin College
  • Courtney Paddick, Bucknell University
  • Carrie Pirmann, Bucknell University
  • David Pettegrew, Messiah College
  • Kelli Shermeyer, University of Virginia
  • Emily Sherwood, Bucknell University

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