February 3rd, 2018

Gloria Chao is an MIT grad turned dentist turned writer. She currently lives in Chicago with her ever-supportive husband, for whom she became a nine-hole golfer (sometimes seven). She is always up for cooperative board games, Dance Dance Revolution, or soup dumplings. She was also once a black belt in kung-fu and a competitive dancer, but that side of her was drilled and suctioned out. ...

Reading Is Critical
February 2nd, 2018

Originally published in 1942 and now reprinted for the first time, They Knew Lincoln is a classic in African American history and Lincoln studies. Part memoir and part history, the book is an account of John E. Washington's childhood among African Americans in Washington, DC, and of the black people who knew or encountered Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. 

A new introduction by Kate Masur places Washington's book in its own context, explaining the contents...

February 1st, 2018

White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing is the story of Gail Lukasik’s mother’s “passing,” Gail’s struggle with the shame of her mother’s choice, and her subsequent journey of self-discovery and redemption. In the historical context of the Jim Crow South, Gail explores her mother’s decision to pass, how she hid her secret even from her own husband, and the price she paid for choosing whiteness. Haunted by her mother’s fear and shame, Gail embarks on a quest to uncover her mother’s racial lineage, tracing her family back to eighteenth-century colonial Louisiana. In coming to terms with her decision to publicly “out” her mother,...

January 30th, 2018

When Roya, an Iranian American high school student, is asked to identify her race, she feels anxiety and doubt. According to the federal government, she and others from the Middle East are white. Indeed, a historical myth circulates even in immigrant families like Roya's, proclaiming Iranians to be the "original" white race. But based on the treatment Roya and her family receive in American schools, airports, workplaces, and neighborhoods—interactions characterized by intolerance or hate—Roya is increasingly certain that she is not white. In The Limits of Whiteness, Neda Maghbouleh offers a groundbreaking, timely look at how Iranians and other Middle Eastern Americans move across the color line. By shadowing Roya and more than 80 other young people, Maghbouleh documents Iranian Americans' shifting racial status. Drawing on never-before-...

January 28th, 2018


Zeus gives birth to Athena; courtesy of NYPL

This week on the podcast, classical folklorist William Hansen recounts ancient Greek and Roman folktales from his collection, The Book of Greek and Roman Folktales, Legends, and Myths and Wendy Doniger joins us in talking about cross-cultural mythologies surrounding rings and their connection to love and sex as she writes about in her recent book, The Ring of Truth...

Open Stacks Podcast
January 28th, 2018

Excerpts from the Reading List: a feature of Poetry's Editor's Blog.

Subscribe to Poetry magazine, the oldest monthly publication devoted to verse in the English-speaking world, at a special rate for friends of the Seminary Co-op. Click ...

Et cetera
January 26th, 2018

Race is a visual phenomenon, the ability to see “difference.” At least that is what conventional wisdom has lead us to believe. Yet, The Sonic Color Line argues that American ideologies of white supremacy are just as dependent on what we hear—voices, musical taste, volume—as they are on skin color or hair texture. Reinforcing compelling new ideas about the relationship between race and sound with meticulous historical research, Jennifer Lynn Stoever helps us to better understand how sound and listening not only register the racial politics of our world, but actively produce them. Through analysis of the...

January 21st, 2018

This week on Open Stacks, signs of life in film and filmic renditions of life. Noa Steimatsky, Robert Pippin, and Carl Skoggard share in the cinematic tradition of building and relaying stories and worlds with the smallest of details. 

Steimatsky guides us through the power of the human visage as it is wielded on the screen. Not mentioned in this clip, but given ample attention in her book is Carl Dreyer's gem of a silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc. Renée Jeanne Falconetti’s performance in the movie is often applauded due to the actress's remarkably expressive face. For example:


Open Stacks Podcast
January 19th, 2018

The fragments and testimonia of the early Greek philosophers (often labeled the Presocratics) have always been not only a fundamental source for understanding archaic Greek culture and ancient philosophy but also a perennially fresh resource that has stimulated Western thought until the present day. This new systematic conception and presentation of the evidence differs in three ways from Hermann Diels’s groundbreaking work, as well as from later editions: it renders explicit the material’s thematic organization; it includes a selection from such related bodies of evidence as archaic poetry, classical...

January 18th, 2018


Smart Decarceration is a forward-thinking, practical volume that provides innovative concepts and concrete strategies for ushering in an era of decarceration -- a proactive and effective undoing of the era of mass incarceration. The text grapples with tough questions and takes up the challenge of transforming America's approach to criminal justice in the 21st century. This timely work consists of chapters written from multiple perspectives and disciplines including advocates, researchers, academics, practitioners, and persons with incarceration histories who are now leaders in the movement. Matthew Epperson, the editor of...