Weekly Assignment #11

I’ve finally realized that if I post the assignment to the blog before class, I can use it to teach class! (If the projector is working.) Boy, these blogs are useful things. (EXCEPT when they eat your work.)

This week’s special bibliographic category is “book reviews.” One point to make about book reviews is that there are two main reasons to use them: first, to check the reputation of a book you’ve heard of; second, to discover brand-new books that you’ve never heard of.

Neither the MLA Bibliography nor Google Scholar will allow you to limit specifically to book reviews. A “Cited Reference” search on a book title in Web of Science will sometimes bring you book reviews of that work, but it’d dicey. The most useful databases for book reviews are Project Muse and JSTOR, which both allow you to limit to reviews. Go to the Advanced Search and look around for this limiter, toggle it, then plug in the book title, and voilà: book reviews of that book.

Cindy Levine has put together a guide to book reviews that is particularly helpful at pointing you to print sources that help you find older book reviews. This can be helpful for both scholarly books (secondary sources) and works of literature (primary sources). Book reviews can also have a scholarly purpose for us, of course, helping us assess a work’s contemporary reception.

Remember, too, that many periodicals exist for the sole purpose of reviewing books as they appear: The New York Times Book Review has a free weekly e-mail, and it looks like the horribly expensive Times Literary Supplement (which I covet) has instituted an RSS feed. I definitely plan to check that out. Specialized reviews such as the Women’s Review of Books can also be terrific. Keeping up with contemporary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry is (I personally believe) necessary for an academic even if you’re studying Old English.

Scholarly journals are the best source for highly specialized book reviews, of course. Also, Amazon and Powell’s have become rich sources of less formal reviews; you might be surprised how many academics have enthusiastically adopted these online reviewing mechanisms. See, for example, the Amazon reviews of Terry Eagleton’s After Theory, which came out in 2004.

(And look! Amazon has citation links, too! I either forgot about that or didn’t know about it. Evidently that feature debuted in late 2004.)

For this week’s assignment, please try to find:

  • A book review of a very recent scholarly book (2005-2006), a book you’ve never heard of before, that might be useful for you. Browse through recent issues of scholarly journals and/or mainstream reviews such as the TLS for these. You need not annotate this book review; just include the full citation for the book review and the title of the book being reviewed.
  • As many book reviews as you can find of a book you’ve already found for your topic. Please list these and write a single paragraph summarizing what they say — the general critical reception of the book.

If you can’t manage to find a recent book review that points you toward a useful book, don’t worry about it: just do the second part of the assignment. Also, as I mentioned, by “book” I mean any book — scholarly editions and anthologies and reference works as well as single-author mongraphs.

UPDATE: Domenica Vilhotti found a terrific open web resource called Scirus ETD Search that searches the Electronic Theses and Dissertations repositories of many institutions, including ours. Great for full text theses and dissertations; Dissertation Abstracts doesn’t give yo ufull text.

Advertisements

16 Comments

Filed under General

16 responses to “Weekly Assignment #11

  1. Eric Gerson

    Part 1:
    Platzner, Robert. Understanding Judaism: An Introduction to the Beliefs, Practices, and Historical Development of the Jewish Faith. McGraw, 2007.
    Part II shall come later.

  2. Josh Peery

    Documentary in the Digital Age (Paperback) 2006
    by Maxine Baker
    This book about documentary making is intersting as both an insight and a semi-practical guide. Maxine Baker, herself an experienced investigative journalist and documentary maker, examines the many different and innovative approaches to documentary form and style arising from the use of new and low-budget technology The book features interviews and advice from groundbreaking documentary makers, most notable to me being Errol Morris.
    A review I found via Amazon was hosted by shootingpeople.org a indie film site.
    They also review other books, so the site is a good clearinghouse for new books in my field of film studies.

  3. Elizabeth Livingston

    Part One
    No luck. I searched both the New York Times book review and Times Literary Supplement
    Part Two
    Not much more luck I only found one review of the book HEMINGWAY AND THE DEAD GODS A STUDY IN EXISTENTIALISM by John Killinger (my best source to date). The article written by John M. Muste was untitled and appeared in WISCONSIN STUDIES IN CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE VOLUME 1, NO. 3, EXISTENTIALISM IN THE 50’S. It came out in Autumn 1960 (pp. 106-110). The article was less than flattering. It basically said that Killinger did a poor job supporting his theories. He was critical of Killinger’s method, saying he ignored paradoxes and contradictions in order to keep within his rigid hypothesis.
    I found this article with JSTOR and was very unlucky with Project Muse, Amazon (had no reviews),and Powell. I did consult the link to our library’s suggestions and found an article through the database Academic Search Planner but I was unable to click on the article and actually review it myself. This review is in AMERICAN LITERATURE Vol. 33 issue 2. I know no other information on this review. (It only gave me the initials c.g. as the author………..)

  4. Mary Kohn

    Eades, Diana. 2006.”The Language, Ethnicity and Race Rader.” Discourse and Society 17;5 677-679.
    This article reviews ” The Language, Ethnicity and Race Reader,” edited by Roxy Harris and Ben Rampton
    I tried to find reviews on Carmon Fought’s Language and Ethnicity. I searched in JSTOR, google scholar, Project Muse, and Academic Search Premier. I couldn’t find anything, so I began to search through linguistics journals. An hour and a half later nothing showed up. I’m honestly very disappointed in that this book was highly recommended to me by a professor and this author participated in writing articles for several of my textbooks.
    So I switched to a book on language attitudes and discourse because more reviews seem to be written on books about this topic.
    Hernandez-Campoy, Juan Manuel. 2005. “Investigating language attitudes: Social meanings of dialect, ethnicity and performance” Language and Society, 34 Issue 3, 467-470.
    Reviews the book “Investigating Language Attitudes: Social Meanings of Dialect, Ethnicity and Performance,” by Peter Garrett, Nikolas Coupland and Angie Williams. Hernandez-Campoy, who is a respected sociolinguist, positively reviews this book stating that it is well-researched and applicable to a range of interests in various fields.
    Williams, Ann. 2005.Peter Garrett, Nikolas Coupland and Angie Williams, 2003, Investigating Language Attitudes: Social Meanings of Dialect, Ethnicity and Performance.International Journal of Applied Linguistics 15; 3, p411-414. Text not available on-line
    Four other reviews showed up through Academic Search Premir, but the texts were not available at NCSU. Nothing showed up through JSTOR or Project Muse. I suppose this lends credence to the importance of subscribing to journals in your own field because the topics and books you may be tracking could be too specific to be included in database searches.

  5. Mary Kohn

    Eades, Diana. 2006.”The Language, Ethnicity and Race Rader.” Discourse and Society 17;5 677-679.
    This article reviews ” The Language, Ethnicity and Race Reader,” edited by Roxy Harris and Ben Rampton
    I tried to find reviews on Carmon Fought’s Language and Ethnicity. I searched in JSTOR, google scholar, Project Muse, and Academic Search Premier. I couldn’t find anything, so I began to search through linguistics journals. An hour and a half later nothing showed up. I’m honestly very disappointed in that this book was highly recommended to me by a professor and this author participated in writing articles for several of my textbooks.
    So I switched to a book on language attitudes and discourse because more reviews seem to be written on books about this topic.
    Hernandez-Campoy, Juan Manuel. 2005. “Investigating language attitudes: Social meanings of dialect, ethnicity and performance” Language and Society, 34 Issue 3, 467-470.
    Reviews the book “Investigating Language Attitudes: Social Meanings of Dialect, Ethnicity and Performance,” by Peter Garrett, Nikolas Coupland and Angie Williams. Hernandez-Campoy, who is a respected sociolinguist, positively reviews this book stating that it is well-researched and applicable to a range of interests in various fields.
    Williams, Ann. 2005.Peter Garrett, Nikolas Coupland and Angie Williams, 2003, Investigating Language Attitudes: Social Meanings of Dialect, Ethnicity and Performance.International Journal of Applied Linguistics 15; 3, p411-414. Text not available on-line
    Four other reviews showed up through Academic Search Premir, but the texts were not available at NCSU. Nothing showed up through JSTOR or Project Muse. I suppose this lends credence to the importance of subscribing to journals in your own field because the topics and books you may be tracking could be too specific to be included in database searches.

  6. Josh Gane

    1.
    Hassan, Ihab. Abstractions. Diacritics, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Summer, 1975), pp. 13-18.
    The book being reviewed here is Art and the Future: a History/Prophecy by Douglas Davis. It explains that Davis investigates the relation between “art, technology and abstraction (Hassan). He also considers the future of art and culture, and anticipates the move from humanist art to posthuman art. It is a very detailed account of the book, and would be a book that I would consider for my project.
    2.
    I only found 1 good review, beyond ones I have already used, of a book that I consider essential for my project. The book is Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, a book which I have spent extensive time studying. Both reviews give a general, but what I would consider fair account of the workings of the book. This is a difficult task to tackle in a short review given that the book is a notorious hard read that explores many different confusing consepts. The book itself is actually written in a way to exhibit what it seeks to explain about postmodernism. It is often nonlinear and seemingly jumbled with ideas that overlap.
    Vera, Hernan. Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 7, No. 3. (May, 1978), pp.310-311.

  7. Eric Gerson

    Part I:
    I misunderstood the first part in my original post, so just ignore that. As for a revision, it is impossible. My thesis will concentrate entirely on Jewish American Literature in the 1970s and early 1980s. I did try to find reviews of recent books dealing with Hasidic law and with Jewish literature, particularly those relating to Cynthia Ozick, in all of the search engines suggested, but to no avail.
    Part II:
    Strandberg, Victor. Rev. of “Cynthia Ozick’s Fiction: Tradition and Invention, by Elaine M. Kauver, New Melville. American Literature 66.1 (Mar. 1994): 198-99.
    Strandberg summarizes Kauver’s scholarly achievement, which he states is an impressive achievement of years of research (199), of analyzing Ozick’s works in correlation to literary classics from Plato to Balzac. He also points out the continued “father-figure” (199) image that Kauver examines in relation to Ozick’s “schizoid” (199) feelings toward the prevalent theme of Jewish idolatry in the works of Ozick’s contemporaries.
    Baumgarten, Murray. “Reading Cynthia Ozick: Imagining Jewish Writing.” Rev. of Cynthia Ozick’s Comic Art: From Levity to Liturgy by Sarah Blacher Cohen
    Cynthia Ozick’s Fiction: Tradition and Invention by Elaine M. Kauvar
    Greek Mind, Jewish Soul: The Conflicted Art of Cynthia Ozick by Victor Strandberg. Contemporary Literature 37.2 (Summer 1996): 307-14.
    Baumgarten’s review states that Kauver’s analysis of Ozick’s works has a more “scholarly breadth and literary intensity that more fully illuminates Ozick’s cultural project” (310). This is accomplished with an examination of the similarities between “Pan and Moses,” and the “dispute between Hebraism and Hellenism” (310) that is prevalent in Ozick’s fiction. Kauver stipulates that Ozick rejects convention for literary invention, one of the main facets to my thesis. Additionally, Baumgarten states in detail the literary influences that Kauver applies to Ozick in her article; something that Strandberg only vaguely mentioned.
    Both reviews, although containing certain similar discussions, are widely different in terms of detail and complexity. What Strandberg only mentions, Baumgarten intently examines, and each author possesses their own unique insight.

  8. Carrie Spruill

    Part I:
    Connolly, Joy. “The Play’s the Thing, Usually.” The New York Times 23 February 2004.
    The book under review here is Frank Kermode’s The Age of Shakespeare. In the book, Kermode does close readings into the text of Shakespeare plays, paying particular attention to political themes and the social milieu that produced them. I think it would be worthwhile to read it and see if there might be a section on Titus.
    Part II
    Kahn, Coppelia. Roman Shakespeare: Warriors, Wounds, and Women. New York: Routledge, 1997.
    This book discusses how Rome, as a founder of ancient Britain, is a central motif in Shakespearean plays such as Cymbeline, Coriolanus, and (of course) Titus Andronicus. Kahn notes that the wounds men receive likens them to women because both are penetrable. She ties this issue into a discussion of offenses suffered by women in the play, noting that their hallmarks are dependency and open displays of emotion.
    In my research, I found three reviews in Jstor. Though I tried Porject Muse, Powell’s and Amazon, I found none in the first two and only a synopsis in the third one. Most of the Jstor commentaries are generally positive. Even critics who question Kahn’s feminist theory, including her stance that Shakespeare was critiquing patriarchal values in his plays, opined that her work is a valuable resource for Shakespeare study for the indepdenent scholar or in the classroom. Though one scholar noted that Kahn focused more on conceptions of masculinity in opposition to femininity than on the female characters themselves, all reviewers praised her for contributing a feminist perspective to critical dialogue about Shakespeare.

  9. leigh youngs

    Sidney : the critical heritage / edited by Martin Garrett.
    Hello, Astrophil. I’m not so sure that I can read this critical argument. I have two articles from my thesis director.
    Playing the globe : genre and geography in English Renaissance drama / edited by John Gillies and Virginia Mason Vaughan.
    This is an article about King Lear, and T.S. Eliot.
    J. Alfred Prufrock is not just the speaker of one of Eliot’s poems. He is the Representative Man of early Modernism. Shy, cultivated, oversensitive, sexually retarded (many have said impotent), ruminative, isolated, self-aware to the point of solipsism, as he says, “Am an attendant lord, one that will do / To swell a progress, start a scene or two.” Nothing revealed the Victorian upper classes in Western society more accurately, unless it was a novel by Henry James, and nothing better exposed the dreamy, insubstantial center of that consciousness than a half-dozen poems in Eliot’s first book. The speakers of all these early poems are trapped inside their own excessive alertness. They look out on the world from deep inside some private cave of feeling, and though they see the world and themselves with unflattering exactness, they cannot or will not do anything about their dilemma and finally fall back on self-serving explanation. They quake before the world, and their only revenge is to be alert. After Prufrock and Other Observations, poetry started coming from the city and from the intellect. It could no longer stand comfortably on its old post-Romantic ground, ecstatic before the natural world.
    from A Profile of Twentieth-Century American Poetry. Ed. Jack Myers and David Wojahan. Copyright 1991 by Southern Illinois UP.

  10. Anonymous

    1. Millinson, Christine (2006). “Chicano English in Context”: Book Review. American Speech 81 (2) 213-217
    First of all, I think it’s funny that they spelled Christine Mallinson’s name “Millison”– she was Walt’s student and at NCSU recently. Second, her review helped me find a great resource. This wasn’t available in the NCSU library, so I sent the search to Duke, found it there, reserved the book, drove to Duke, and got a tour of the Perkins library stacks (now I know where all the socioling/dialectology books are!), as well as a little “library privileges” sticker on my NCSU ID card so I can check out all the books I want at Duke. Hooray!
    2. Baugh, John. “The development of African American English”: Book Review. Language in Society, Feb2006, Vol. 35 Issue 1, p152-155.
    The review is glowing, promising a “wealth of resources” for any student of AAVE sociolinguistics, mentioning Walt and Erik’s “meticulous” research conducted in various areas of NC. Holla.

  11. Leah White

    Part I:
    Swann, Joan (2006) “Gender Talk: Feminism, Discourse and Conversation Analysis.” Journal of Sociolinguistics 10 (3), 407-412.
    This reviews Susan Speer’s 2005 book “Gender Talk: Feminism, Discourse and Conversation Analysis.”
    Part II:
    For this part, I decided to look for reviews of Jennifer Coates’ book “Women, Men, and Language: A Sociolinguistic Account of Gender Differences in Language” (originally published in 1986, now in its 3rd edition).
    I searched through the Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts database, and finally came up with 7 reviews, with only 3 of them full-text accessible (all three of these redirected to JSTOR). These three all pertain to the 2nd edition.
    Barton, Ellen L. “Contesting Language.” College English 57.4 (Apr 1995): 481-497.
    Byrnes, Heidi. “Women, Men and Language: A Sociolinguistic Account of Gender Differences in Language (2nd edition).” The Modern Language Journal 78.4 (Winter 1994): 559-560.
    Salzmann, Zdenek. “Women, Men and Language: A Sociolinguistic Account of Gender Differences in Language (2nd edition).” Language 70.3 (Sept 1994): 601-602.
    All three of these reviews are positive, with Barton’s being the only one that points out any possible issues with the book. Hers is, notably, also the one that devotes the largest number of pages to reviewing the work (though her review also deals with about four books total). Generally, the reviewers found it to be a good book, accessible even to non-linguists, and successful in proving the point that gender differences in language is a serious topic that should be examined in more depth.

  12. Erin Callahan

    First off– Apologies– thought I had posted this earlier tonight, and when I didn’t see my post on the site, realized I hadn’t entered my name and email.
    1. A BROAD OVERVIEW OF CHICANO ENGLISH. Book Review by Millinson, Christine in American Speech, Summer2006, Vol. 81 Issue 2, p213-217
    Great book, great review. I have to mention a. it’s hilarious they mispelled Christine Mallinson’s name– she was at NC State recently, which is how I know this– and b. I was so excited to find this book, I sent the search to Duke (NCSU libraries didn’t have it), reserved the book, went by to Perkins library to pick it up, not only got a little sticker on my NCSU ID that gives me book-borrowing privileges at Duke, but got a tour of the Perkins stacks, so now I know just where to go to get the sociolinguistics section. Excellent.
    2. WALT WOLFRAM & ERIK R. THOMAS, The development of African American English. Book Review by John Baugh in Language in Society, Volume 35, Issue 01, January 2006, pp 152-155
    Baugh gives a glowing review, praising Walt and Erik’s “meticulous” work on AAVE, using data from various areas of NC, including Hyde County. He claims “any student of AAVE, or sociolinguistics in general” will find a “wealth of knowledge” in this text. He certainly casts Walt and Erik as leading, authoritative leaders in the field and makes me feel lucky to have the chance to work with them.

  13. Baker Pratt

    I didn’t have much luck with Part I, finding a book through book reviews.
    For part II I used a book that isn’t totally related to my topic, but does have some relevant parts.
    Larrington, Carolyn. “The Four Funerals in Beowulf”: Book Review. Review of English Studies,2002; 53: 108-109.
    Her overall review is positive, and does recommend it at the end, saying the book offers some new ways to think about Beowulf. One interesting criticism to Part I of the book is that it apparently uses some outdated, anglicized names, which led Larrington to wonder if Owen-Crocker was consulting older texts without properly considering their current academic merit.
    Then Larrington shows some skepticism of Owen-Crocker’s complete claims for Part II in its particular focus on Beowulf. But she does not completely reject the claims and seems to allow for the reader to make the final decision.

  14. Erika J. Galluppi

    NOTE: I’ve posted now three separate times; hopefully, it’ll take and stay put this time.
    Part I ?
    No real luck finding a book that was 1) unknown to me and/or 2) had a decent review.
    Part II ?
    Harries, Elizabeth Wanning. Twice Upon a Time, Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.
    Reviews:
    Seago, Karen. Rev. of Twice Upon a Time, Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale, by Elizabeth Wanning Harries. Marvels & Tales 16.2 (Oct. 2002): 304-307.
    – I found the above review for sale as a digital document on Amazon. Since I couldn’t access more than an exceptionally brief excerpt (the listing didn’t include a decent abstract or even a short yet detailed synopsis), I wasn’t too sure what Seago had to say about Harries’ book. However, by doing a quick Google search, I found the full review on Project MUSE along with several others that I’ve listed below.
    Perry, Evelyn M. Rev. of Twice Upon a Time, Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale, by Elizabeth Wanning Harries. Journal of American Folklore 117.464 (Spring 2004): 209-210.
    Seifert, Lewis Carl. Rev. of Twice Upon a Time, Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale, by Elizabeth Wanning Harries. MLQ: Modern Language Quarterly 65. 2 (June 2004): 301-304.
    – With my further searches, I found the same reviews/reviewers as well as references to the following reputable reviews/reviewers that I’m still trying to track down:
    Heller, Amanda. Rev. of Twice Upon a Time, Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale, by Elizabeth Wanning Harries. The Boston Globe.
    Rasheed, Leila. Rev. of Twice Upon a Time, Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale, by Elizabeth Wanning Harries. Folklore Dec. 2006.
    – I know that both Jack Zipes, University of Minnesota, and Maria Tatar, Harvard University, reviewed the book for the back jacket cover, but I want to see if they wrote anything more in depth on the subject of Harries’ book.
    All of the reviews that I found both compliment and agree with Harries’ assessment of the treatment of fairy tales (particularly the overlooking of stories that didn?t easily fit amid the “compact tales” of Perrault and the Brothers Grimm) and her argument for a re-reading of the history and canon of fairy tales and the inclusion of works of women writers. In terms of criticism, Seago did mention that Harries’ field of focus was too wide, which left Seago desiring more in depth analyses of Harries’ ideas. However, the book still so greatly impressed Seago and other critics that it is considered a “highly readable” leading resource in both feminist literary criticism and fairy tale research.

  15. Lisa Morgan

    Book Reviewed:
    Masur, Louis P. Rites of Execution: Capital Punishment and the Transformation of American Culture, 1776-1865. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989. Pp. viii, 208.
    Book Review found in The American Historical Review, Vol. 95, No.4. (Oct., 1990), pp. 1273-1274.
    Book Review Author: Myra C. Glenn
    I found this book review by using JSTOR. I found it to be a better search tool than Project Muse.
    This book is one that I had an interest in reading, so that?s why I chose it. The book review reinforced my belief that this book will be helpful in my research and that it will serve as a reputable source of information for a future article. The book review was kind to the author in showering him with accolades, however, the reviewer did point out minor shortcomings in the book?s lack of focus on studying the capital punishment reform (anti-death penalty) movement throughout history. This book offers the reader so much detailed historical information about the patterns and political atmosphere of punishment during the period 1776-1865.
    Book Reviewed:
    McBride, James. Religion and the Death Penalty: A Call for Reckoning.
    Reviewed in:
    McBride, James Religion and the Death Penalty: A Call for Reckoning (review). Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Volume 74, Number 1, March 2006, pp. 253-256.
    This book caught my eye because it focuses on a viewpoint that is often scoffed at in political circles ? the religious point of view. Often religious figures are shunned from the political arena on public policy discussions. But they are prominent in the debate over the death penalty. This book review gives a favorable response to most of the collected essays in this book; however, the reviewer doesn?t hold back any punches on his criticism of a few essays such as the one by Avery Cardinal Dulles. This book review was helpful in weeding out potential sources. After reading this review, I would not choose this book for a source unless I was writing an article specifically about the perspective of religious believers on the death penalty issue.

  16. James Sellers

    Part One:
    Review of The Handbook of Language Variation and Change
    Reviewer: Alexander Yu. Rusakov
    Book Title: The Handbook of Language Variation and Change
    Book Author: J. K. Chambers / Natalie Schilling-Estes / Peter Trudgill
    Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
    Part Two: I looked for reviews of An Acoustic Analysis of Vowel Variation in New World English by Erik Thomas. The only review I found was the following: Analyzing Vowel Variation by the Numbers Review author[s]: Terry Lynn Irons American Speech, Vol. 79, No. 3. (Autumn, 2004), pp. 317-323.
    The review pretty much just praised the book. It mostly just goes through and summarizes each paragraph and then has a brief section including criticism. Where it does offer criticism, it then explains the author’s response to the criticism. The criticism mainly focuses on presentation of information, such as standard deviation for vowel measurement means. Basically thomas didn’t include some information that the reviwer thought that he should have.