Skip to content

photo of paul musselwhiteHolding Court is an interview series that features the authors of the new books on display in the King Arthur Flour café in Baker-Berry Library.

In this week's edition, we speak with Paul Musselwhite, a historian of early America with a particular focus on the political economy of early plantation societies in North America and the Caribbean.  Paul is the co-editor of  Empire of the Senses: Sensory Practices of Colonialism in Early America (Brill, 2017), which explores the role that the senses played in the production of empire.

What is your book about?

In order for Europeans to colonize the Americas and tap its resources they had to first be able to sense it - to figure out what it smelt like, tasted like, etc. That process made it comprehensible as a set of commodities, people, and places that could be acquired and integrated into their world.

Where did you get your ideas for this book?

I'd been working on the history of English cities in America and I'd been thinking about the way colonists tried to recreate urban sensory experiences (music, food, physical interactions) there. In the process of doing that work I made contact with Prof. Daniella Hacke from Berlin and we came up with the idea of bringing together a lot of scholars who were working on similar topics as part of a new volume.

What does research look like for you? What element of research could you not live without?

I'm not a neat researcher. I'm a very synthetic thinker so I need lots of books and files open at once, often strewn across my desk, so I can keep jumping back and forth. That's my excuse anyway!

What do you think the library of the future will look like?

I don't think we'll ever move away from the value of some printed material, but the key is going to be finding way to make different kinds of media work together. I'd love to see workspaces that can combine digital media with printed sources and manuscripts.

What advice would you give to an aspiring scholar or writer?

You can never rewrite your introduction too many times - keep going back to it.

And finally, what do you read for fun?

I love to read good travel writing.

photo of faith beasleyHolding Court is an interview series that features the authors of the new books on display in the King Arthur Flour café in Baker-Berry Library.

In this week's edition, we speak with Faith E. Beasley, Professor of French and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  Author of Versailles Meets the Taj Mahal (University of Toronto Press, 2018) Beasley is an expert in seventeenth-century French literature by women.  Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012, Beasley used the prize to complete research and writing on this book, an exploration into the conversations about India during the early modern period in France.

What is your book about?

I identify and explore the traces that the encounter with India left on the cultural artifacts and mindset of early modern Europe. I focus on France's "Grand Siècle" and the female-dominated salon culture that was unique to France and resurrect the traces of conversations about India in the literary works, correspondences, philosophical texts, novels, fables, and memoirs produced by members of a particular salon.

Where did you get your ideas for this book?

I have always been interested in the shadows of history, in finding and telling the stories that have been lost or sometimes intentionally cast aside and rejected from the dominant narrative of the past. My first two books, Revising Memory and Salons, History, and the Creation of 17th-century France, focused on the women writers of France's canonical 17th century and their influence on culture, and then explored why their story and the institution associated with them, the salon, was either erased from history or revised so it no longer posed a threat to the traditional view of the image of Louis XIV's France. This book also places into question our idea of what the west thought of India and the influence India exerted on the western imaginary. For the past 20 years I have lived between France, the US, and India, and been immersed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I started to notice references to India in some of France's most well-known works of literature and philosophy and was struck by how these references reflected a very different relationship between West and East than the one portrayed by orientalism. This interdisciplinary and cultural analysis of the encounter between two great civilizations at peak moments of their history challenges our preconceptions of the relationship between west and east, as it complicates our understanding of the past by including voices, especially those of women, who have been silenced.

What does research look like for you? What element of research could you not live without?

Research for me is above all reading: reading versions of history, literary works, letters, philosophy...works from many different disciplines. In the early modern period, the boundaries between disciplines were much more fluid and sometimes didn't even exist. I also love to visit museums to see what people who were writing the texts I'm reading were looking at as they constructed images of the world around them. My goal is to learn how people thought, and how they came up with new ideas, not just what those ideas were. We read literary works differently when we have a deep understanding of their historical context. I find texts and images online, but I derive much more pleasure from time spent in libraries in Paris, in the archives, looking at the marginalia in early editions of works. I can't work without touching physical books, nor read a book without having a pencil in hand for notes! I always have to have a writing utensil and paper around me to jot down ideas, even on my bedside table!

What do you think the library of the future will look like?

My ardent hope is that it will still contain actual books. Reading a text online is simply not the same experience.

What advice would you give to an aspiring scholar or writer?

Write about questions and issues that engage your mind but also your heart, your very being. Don't just go with the latest fad or write to please others. Your work must come from deep within you to keep your interest as well as attract readers. And don't be afraid to revise!

And finally, what do you read for fun?

I have always loved to read biographies. My next project will be a biography in fact! I'm fascinated by how a writer constructs someone's life, and by different biographies of the same subject. My other great passion is historical novels. I love to enter the past, become engrossed in another world. I appreciate texts that get me into people's mindsets and that offer different ways of viewing and interpreting the world.

1

A portrait of Laura Edmondson, associate professor of theater, and program administrator for African and African American studies and women's and gender studies.Holding Court is an interview series that features the authors of the new books on display in the King Arthur Flour café in Baker-Berry Library.

In this week's edition, we speak with Laura Edmondson, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theater.  The research and writing of Laura's book, Performing Trauma in Central Africa: Shadows of Empire (Indiana University Press, 2018), developed over the span of more than a decade, proving that quality scholarship takes time and persistence to produce.

What is your book about?

My book explores theater and other forms of cultural production that respond to conflict and post-conflict in Rwanda, northern Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Basically, it’s a journey through the performance of war in Central Africa.

Where did you get your ideas for this book?

From fieldwork. In 2004, I traveled to northern Uganda to research how theater artists were responding to the conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Ugandan government. Based on my previous work in neighboring Tanzania, I anticipated that theater in northern Uganda would serve as a vital forum of community (re)building and cultural resilience; instead, I found that it had been thoroughly appropriated as a humanitarian tool of “marketing trauma.” This launched an exploration into what I call, after Didier Fassin and Richard Rechtman, an “empire of trauma.”

What does research look like for you? What element of research could you not live without?

To understand the complexities of an empire of trauma, I draw upon both fieldwork and textual analysis. And the element that I need is time, time, and more time. The research and writing of my book took over a decade. I was pregnant with my second child when I started doing research in Uganda in 2004—she had just celebrated her 13th birthday when my book came out last April (!).

What do you think the library of the future will look like?

I’m hopeful that the library of the future will always include material books. Wandering the stacks of Baker-Berry leads to unexpected paths of inquiry, far more so than the soullessness of a Google search.

What advice would you give to an aspiring scholar or writer?

Find your prime writing time (first thing in the morning, late at night, whenever). Then, protect it as much as possible and utilize it as much as possible, even if you can only manage half an hour.

And finally, what do you read for fun?

I love novels. Right now, I'm reading Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.  In the Summer 2018, I directed the theater Foreign Study Program in London, and I took the students on an excursion to Bath. It was a fun excuse to get reacquainted with Austen.

 

Wheelan photoHolding Court is an interview series that features the authors of the new books on display in the King Arthur Flour café in Baker-Berry Library.

To kick off the fall term, we hear from economist Charles "Charlie" Wheelan, Class of 1988, Senior Lecturer and Policy Fellow at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy.  Wheelan, former correspondent for The Economistis the author of the "Naked" series: Naked Economics (W.W. Norton, 2002), Naked Statistics (W.W. Norton, 2013), and the latest, Naked Money (W.W. Norton, 2016).  What advice does the prolific writer offer those who get stuck?  To power through the early drafts.

What is your book about?

It describes what "money" is and why it matters. In the process, I try to explain the broader global financial system.

Where did you get your ideas for this book?

Money is such a strange phenomenon. (That $100 bill in your wallet is just a piece of paper.) Yet finance has a huge impact on all of our lives, as we learned during the 2007/2008 financial crisis. I wanted to explore and demystify all this.

What does research look like for you? What element of research could you not live without?

Most of my work is applied. I take other people's ideas and make them more accessible. I'm also the founder of Unite America, which is an effort to re-empower the political middle by electing independents.

What do you think the library of the future will look like?

I'm hoping that libraries will always be physical spaces, as well as repositories of information. They should be a place where we share important community resources, whether that is computer terminals or just good air-conditioning when it's really hot outside.

What advice would you give to an aspiring scholar or writer?

The first draft is always awful. Just power through.

And finally, what do you read for fun?

I've always made time to read for fun, ever since I was a Dartmouth undergrad. I once read War and Peace while hitchhiking in New Zealand. I currently alternate between fiction and nonfiction.

 

photo of guy holding bookThe Fall 2018 term brings a fresh batch of New Books by Dartmouth Authors to the King Arthur Flour Café in Baker-Berry Library.  There are lots of ways to engage with the books on display and learn more about the research, scholarship, and creativity of our local authors.  Check out weekly interviews with the authors in Library Muse.  Attend the book talk on October 24th with Alexander Chee, in which he will present How To Write an Autobiographical Novel (2018).  Browse the titles on display while you wait in line for a coffee.  And if you want to take one home, the Dartmouth Library has a copy of each for borrowing:

Performing Trauma in Central Africa (Laura Edmondson, Theater)

Eastern Europe Unmapped (Irene Kacandes and Yuliya Komska, German)

Empire of the Senses (Paul Musselwhite, History)

Erico Verissimo, escritor do mundo : circulação literária, cosmopolitismo e relações interamericanas  (Carlos Minchillo, Spanish & Portuguese)

10 semanas, 05 gringos, 92 coxinhas : vivências, pensamentos e emoções de cinco universitários norte-americanos em viagem pelo Brasil  (Bella Jacoby ’20, Diana Quezada ’20, Elizabeth Nguyen ’20, Jarley Lopez ’19 and Paolo Juárez ’20)

Versailles meets the Taj Mahal : François Bernier, Marguerite de La Sablière, and enlightening conversations in seventeenth-century France  (Faith E. Beasley, French & Italian)

Experiencing Berlioz  (Melinda O’Neal, Music)

America, the beautiful : la presencia de Estados Unidos en la cultura española contemporánea (José M. del Pino, Spanish & Portuguese)

El impacto de la metropólis : la experiencia americana en Lorca, Dalí y Buñuel

(José M. del Pino, Spanish & Portuguese)

Naked Money (Charles Wheelan, Rockefeller Center)

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel (Alexander Chee, English & Creative Writing)

 

misagh parsa photoHolding Court is an interview series that features the authors of the new books on display in the King Arthur Flour café in Baker-Berry Library.

Today we feature Misagh Parsa, Professor of Sociology, and author of Democracy in Iran: Why It Failed and How It Might Succeed (Harvard University Press, 2016).  Hailed by the Wall Street Journal as "easily the most important work in English on the Islamic Republic since the revolution," the Times Literary Supplement as "brilliantly argued," and Choice as "erudite and intellectually challenging," Parsa's book analyzes Iran's prospects for democratic reform, given historical events and ongoing challenges.

What is your book about?

The book is about the failure of democracy in Iran over more than forty years. It traces the struggles that led to the 1979 revolution and to the Green Movement that shook the foundation of the Islamic regime but failed to transform Iran's political system.

Where did you get your ideas for this book?

I have studied the economic, social, and political conditions that produced democratization struggles in highly authoritarian countries, such as South Korea, Indonesia, Egypt, Nicaragua, and the Philippines over the last half a century. Based on developments in those countries, I developed a theory of democratization through alternative routes of reform or revolution.

What does research look like for you? What element of research could you not live without?

Key to my research are the internet, published newspaper articles, and interviews.

What do you think the library of the future will look like?

While books and articles provided a great deal of historical and theoretical material for my book, the internet helped a great deal on the contemporary developments in the social, economic, and political spheres. Without the internet, I would not have had access to the data and I would have had to wait for a long time to collect the necessary information to analyze and finish my book.

What advice would you give to an aspiring scholar or writer?

Raise fundamental, challenging questions, keep searching for data that address those questions, and don't be afraid to draw unorthodox conclusions.

And finally, what do you read for fun?

I continue to be drawn by the dilemmas faced by people who have been unjustly treated and their struggles to liberate themselves and restructure their world.  Here again, I read a lot on the internet. I follow some blogs to see people’s problems, their conflicts; the ways in which people understand their situation, and what they are doing to change their world.

Lewis Glinert photoHolding Court is an interview series that features the authors of the new books on display in the King Arthur Flour café in Baker-Berry Library.

In this week's edition, we hear from Lewis Glinert, Professor of Hebrew Studies in the Middle Eastern Studies program.  Glinert is the author of The Story of Hebrew (Princeton University Press, 2017), which, true to its title, tells the sprawling and complex story of the origins, preservation, revival, and present-day usage of the Hebrew language.  Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, finalist for the 2017 National Jewish Book Award, and named by CHOICE Magazine as one of the "Outstanding Academic Titles for 2017," Glinert's book has won wide critical acclaim.

What is your book about?

I explore the extraordinary hold that Hebrew has had on Jews and Christians, who invested it with symbolic power beyond that of any other language in history.

Where did you get your ideas for this book?

Watching the Emmy Award-winning series "The Story of English", I thought "That's nothing compared with the story of Hebrew..."

What does research look like for you? What element of research could you not live without?

A deck without wifi, some raisins and almonds, and (so 20th century) pen and paper.

What do you think the library of the future will look like?

They'll all be like Sanborn Library, places to curl up with a book.

What advice would you give to an aspiring scholar or writer?

Think how many rejections JK Rowling got...

And finally, what do you read for fun?

The Big Book of Jewish Humor by William Novak and Moshe Waldoks.

 

photo of James WrightHolding Court is an interview series that features the authors of the new books on display in the King Arthur Flour café in Baker-Berry Library.

In this week's edition, we speak with James Wright, President Emeritus and Eleazar Wheelock Professor of History at Dartmouth College.  Wright's book, Enduring Vietnam: An American Generation and Its War (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2017), recounts the experiences of the young Americans who fought in Vietnam and of families who grieved those who did not return. An important addition to the literature on the Vietnam War, Wright interviewed well over one hundred people for the book and traveled to Vietnam, producing a military history that focuses on the human experience of combat at a pivotal moment in the war, 1969.

What is your book about?

This book is about the human face of the Vietnam War, the on-the-ground experience of those who served there. It focuses on the Baby Boomers. They grew up in the Fifties and many served in Vietnam in the Sixties.

Where do you get your ideas?

I lived through the era, serving in the Marines before the war, spending the war years on college campuses, including arriving at Dartmouth in the dramatic year 1969-70. It has been a haunting part of my life ever since. And after I wrote Those Who Have Borne the Battle (2012), an overview of all of America's wars and those who served, I knew that I had to try to tell the story of those who served in Vietnam.

What does research look like for you? What element of research could you not live without?

With the remarkable digital revolution, the nature and the tools of research have changed markedly since I published my first book in 1966. But the basic principles are the same: research widely and thoroughly, seek to know and to understand your subject fully before you start imposing your presumptions on what happened and what it means. The facts and then informed judgment--and a good narrative structure, good story-telling skills, are the basis for professional history.

I have found the online access to research sources indispensable. And I could not work without Baker Library. It has sustained me through several books, from the Circulation and Inter-Library Loan professionals, to Government Documents and Periodicals and Rauner Library.  Thanks.

What do you think the library of the future will look like?

It will be a repository of knowledge and of information, digital and tangible print, and it will be the home of library professionals who can engage with and advise and assist those who seek to access this knowledge and this information.

What advice would you give to an aspiring scholar or writer?

Read widely and read critically and enjoy navigating an intellectual path that no one has ever followed before. And remember Daniel Patrick Moynihan's warning: Everyone is entitled to their own opinion; they are not entitled to their own facts. Your intellectual path will take you down some trails that you had never anticipated. Enjoy the discovery.

And finally, what do you read for fun?

It is hard to stay away from history--I am just setting out to read Ron Chernow's biography of Ulysses Grant. I am reading a book by my former student, Jake Tapper, The Hellfire Club, and my wife Susan and I thoroughly enjoy the mysteries of Louise Penny.

 

Photo of Marcelo GleiserHolding Court is an interview series that features the authors of the new books on display in the King Arthur Flour café in Baker-Berry Library.

In this week's edition, we speak with Marcelo Gleiser, a theoretical physicist, professor of Physics and Astronomy, and the Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy.  Gleiser's book The Simple Beauty of the Unexpected: A Natural Philosopher's Quest for Trout and the Meaning of Everything (Fore Edge, 2016) integrates memoir writing, scientific exposition, and an investigation into some of life's big questions.  In addition to his voluminous scientific production, Gleiser is the author of several books of popular science, co-founder of NPR's 13.7 cosmos & culture blog, and frequent guest on radio and television shows that explore subjects related to science.  On Wednesday, July 18, Gleiser is giving a public reading in Baker-Berry, a rare opportunity for the Dartmouth and surrounding communities to hear Gleiser read from his more popular work.  We hope you can join us.

What is your book about?

Simple Beauty is about our search for meaning in a strange and unpredictable world. I tell my own story as a scientist and a learning fly fisherman to illustrate our quest to engage with nature and our inner selves. The book is a manifesto for life.

Where do you get your idea [for this book]?

After one of my fly fishing trips, I realized it was an apprenticeship that had much to say about how we fit within nature and about going beyond limits and obstacles to learning. It's a grand metaphor for life that I wanted to share with people.

What does research look like for you? What element of research could you not live without?

Research is the act of engaging with the unknown. Despite its rational, technical aspects, there is something magical about it, as we search for answers to new questions about the world and how we fit in. The process of searching is the lifeblood of re-search which, I always like to say, means we search and we search again. Sometimes frustrating, but, in the end, deeply satisfying.

What do you think the library of the future will look like?

It will be a living, world-wide-connected, repository of accumulated knowledge, an ever-sprawling gateway, as it has always been, to human creativity and its many fruits. It will encompass all kinds of information in all kinds of platforms, from books to virtual-reality experiences of the world and culture.

What advice would you give to an aspiring scholar or writer?

To always write your ideas down and to not be afraid to put your soul into your work. It's the only way to make it truly meaningful.

And finally, what do you read for fun?

Ha! Good question. I love historical fiction and try to read it any chance I have. I also love books about running and the outdoors, given that I am a devoted trail runner myself.

Holding Court is an interview series that features the authors of the new books on display in the King Arthur Flour café in Baker-Berry Library.

In this week's edition, we talk with Annelise Orleck, a historian of labor movements, and author of "We Are All Fast-Food Workers Now": The Global Uprising Against Poverty Wages (Beacon Press, 2018).  In this book, Orleck interviews worker-activists in many US cities and countries around the world, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mexico, South Africa, and the Philippines.  Seven Days has highlighted the book as among the best new books by Vermont authors, and Ms. Magazine included it in its list of 10 Feminist Books to Read This Spring.

What is your book about?

This book traces the globalization of our world economy and the 21st century global uprising against poverty wages led by low-wage workers, a great many of them women of color. Using photos and 140 interviews, this book tells the story, whenever possible, through workers' eyes and workers' voices.

Where do you get your ideas?

On the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 2011, Bangladeshi garment worker Kalpona Akter said, "In Bangladesh it's not 2011, it's 1911." I have found that to be true all over the world, in terms of workplace safety conditions, what wages will be, and the rights of workers to unionize. This book traces a movement by workers to regain rights they first fought for and won more than one hundred years ago.

What does research look like for you? What element of research could you not live without?

This project involved global travel and interviewing, archival research, and digital online research. I could not live without face-to-face and Skype interviews.

What do you think the library of the future will look like?

I think it will include paper as it does now, material objects, and global online links to digitized resources.

What advice would you give to an aspiring scholar or writer?

Enjoy your research and writing. Study what moves you. If you are moved and are having fun as you write, readers will have fun and be moved by your writing.

And finally, what do you read for fun?

I read many different kinds of novels, the New Yorker, Salon and the Guardian.