50 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Folklore about their New Books

New Books in Folklore Marshall Poe

    • Books

Interviews with Scholars of Folklore about their New Books

    Charlene Makley, "The Battle for Fortune: State-led Development, Personhood, and Power among Tibetans in China" (Cornell UP, 2018)

    Charlene Makley, "The Battle for Fortune: State-led Development, Personhood, and Power among Tibetans in China" (Cornell UP, 2018)

    Rebgong, in the Northeastern part of the Tibetan Plateau (China’s Qinghai Province), is in the midst of a ‘Battle for Fortune.’ That is, a battle to both accumulate as much fortune, but also a battle to decide which definitions of fortune are going to dominate Tibetan society: a material fortune based in ‘authoritarian capitalism’ or a Buddhist form of ‘counterdevelopment’ based in traditional ideas about language, landscapes, and compassion.
    In The Battle for Fortune: State-led Development, Personhood, and Power among Tibetans in China (Cornell University Press, 2018), Charlene Makley, Professor of anthropology at Reed College, intermixes these tensions while also exploring her own experience attempting to conduct fieldwork immediately before and after a series of demonstrations rocked Tibet in the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Using a form of multi-sited, ‘dialogic ethnography’ from linguistic anthropology, Charlene Makley considers Tibetans’ encounters with development projects as a historically situated interpretive politics, in which people negotiate the presence or absence of moral and authoritative persons and their associated jurisdictions and powers. Because most Tibetans view the active presence of deities and other invisible and autochthonous beings as the ground of power, causation, and fertile or fortunate landscapes, Makley also takes divine beings as some of the important interlocutors for Tibetans. The Battle for Fortune, therefore challenges readers to grasp the unique reality of Tibetans’ values and fears in the face of their marginalization in China.
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    • 1 hr 27 min
    K. Linder et al., "Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers" (Stylus Publishing, 2020)

    K. Linder et al., "Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers" (Stylus Publishing, 2020)

    If you’re a grad student facing the ugly reality of finding a tenure-track job, you could easily be forgiven for thinking about a career change. However, if you’ve spent the last several years working on a PhD, or if you’re a faculty member whose career has basically consisted of higher ed, switching isn’t so easy. PhD holders are mostly trained to work as professors, and making easy connections to other careers is no mean feat. Because the people you know were generally trained to do the same sorts of things, an easy source of advice might not be there for you.
    Thankfully, for anybody who wishes there was a guidebook that would just break all of this down, that book has now been written. Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers (Stylus Publishing, 2020) by Kathryn E. Linder, Kevin Kelly, and Thomas J. Tobin offers practical advice and step-by-step instructions on how to decide if you want to leave behind academia and how to start searching for a new career. If a lot of career advice is too vague or too ambiguous, this book corrects that by outlining not just how to figure out what you might want to do, but critically, how you might go about accomplishing that.
    Zeb Larson is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University with a PhD in History. His research deals with the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. To suggest a recent title or to contact him, please send an e-mail to zeb.larson@gmail.com.
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    • 39 min
    Andrea Kitta, "The Kiss of Death: Contagion, Contamination, and Folklore" (Utah State UP, 2019)

    Andrea Kitta, "The Kiss of Death: Contagion, Contamination, and Folklore" (Utah State UP, 2019)

    Disease is a social issue and not just a medical one. This is the central tenet underlying The Kiss of Death: Contagion, Contamination, and Folklore (Utah State University Press 2019) by Andrea Kitta, Associate Professor in the English department at East Carolina University, examines the discourses and metaphors of contagion and contamination in vernacular beliefs and practices across a number of media and forms. Using ethnographic, media, and narrative analysis, chapters discuss the changing representations of vampires and zombies in popular culture, the online discussions of Slenderman in relation to adolescent experiences of bullying, the misogyny embedded in legends about kisses that kill, and the racialized nature of patient-zero narratives that surrounding the spread of things like ebola, and the ways in which the HPV vaccine to homophobia. Issues like tellability and the stigmatized vernacular loom large throughout. Although folklorists will already recognize the social importance of vernacular narrative and belief, The Kiss of Death also shows how medical professionals have often failed to take vernacular forms into account. Through attention to narrative and vernacular belief, folklorists can model new forms of engaging with public health professionals and local communities.
    Timothy Thurston is Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Leeds. His research examines language at the nexus of tradition and modernity in China’s Tibet.
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    • 1 hr 8 min
    Eleanor Parker, "Dragon Lords: The History and Legends of Viking England" (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019)

    Eleanor Parker, "Dragon Lords: The History and Legends of Viking England" (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019)

    For all of their prominence in the popular imagination today, the historical record of the Viking presence in England is limited, with much of what we know about them dependent upon the literary accounts attached to it. In Dragon Lords: The History and Legends of Viking England (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019), Eleanor Parker deconstructs these accounts to ascertain what they reveal both about the Vikings and their legacy for medieval England. Focusing on the narratives of Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons, Siward, Guy of Warwick, and Havelok, she draws out similarities that deepen our understanding of who they were. By analyzing these stories, she shows how the interpretations of the Danes changed over time, as their evolution into a more hostile and alien presence gave them a more adversarial role in shaping England’s national identity than was the case.
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    • 22 min
    Alberto Cairo, "How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information" (Norton, 2019)

    Alberto Cairo, "How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information" (Norton, 2019)

    We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if we don’t understand what we’re looking at? Social media has made charts, infographics, and diagrams ubiquitous―and easier to share than ever. We associate charts with science and reason; the flashy visuals are both appealing and persuasive. Pie charts, maps, bar and line graphs, and scatter plots (to name a few) can better inform us, revealing patterns and trends hidden behind the numbers we encounter in our lives. In short, good charts make us smarter―if we know how to read them.
    However, they can also lead us astray. Charts lie in a variety of ways―displaying incomplete or inaccurate data, suggesting misleading patterns, and concealing uncertainty―or are frequently misunderstood, such as the confusing cone of uncertainty maps shown on TV every hurricane season. To make matters worse, many of us are ill-equipped to interpret the visuals that politicians, journalists, advertisers, and even our employers present each day, enabling bad actors to easily manipulate them to promote their own agendas.
    In How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information (W. W. Norton, 2019), data visualization expert Alberto Cairo teaches us to not only spot the lies in deceptive visuals, but also to take advantage of good ones to understand complex stories. Public conversations are increasingly propelled by numbers, and to make sense of them we must be able to decode and use visual information. By examining contemporary examples ranging from election-result infographics to global GDP maps and box-office record charts, How Charts Lie demystifies an essential new literacy, one that will make us better equipped to navigate our data-driven world.
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    • 57 min
    Kathryn Conrad on University Press Publishing

    Kathryn Conrad on University Press Publishing

    As you may know, university presses publish a lot of good books. In fact, they publish thousands of them every year. They are different from most trade books in that most of them are what you might called "fundamental research." Their authors--dedicated researchers one and all--provide the scholarly stuff upon which many non-fiction trade books are based. So when you are reading, say, a popular history, you are often reading UP books at one remove. Of course, some UP books are also bestsellers, and they are all well written (and, I should say, thoroughly vetted thanks to the peer review system), but the greatest contribution of UPs is to provide a base of fundamental research to the public. And they do a great job of it.
    How do they do it? Today I talked to Kathryn Conrad, the president of the Association of University Presses, about the work of UPs, the challenges they face, and some terrific new directions they are going. We also talked about why, if you have a scholarly book in progress, you should talk to UP editors early and often. And she explains how! Listen in.
    Marshall Poe is the editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at marshallpoe@gmail.com.
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    • 40 min

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