New faculty books examine writing by and performance of Barack Obama

The following is a list of books recently or soon to be published by members of the Yale community. Descriptions are based on material provided by the publishers. Authors of new books can forward publishers’ book descriptions to

The Performance of Politics: Obama’s Victory and the Democratic Struggle for Power
Jeffrey C. Alexander, the Lillian Cavenson Saden Professor of Sociology
(Oxford University Press)

Jeffrey Alexander argues that it is more than voter demographics (class, gender, race and religion) that determines the outcome of a political campaign. In “The Performance of Politics,” he argues that images, emotion and performance are central features of the battle for power, however overlooked these factors are by pundits. His book explores the working of politics, focusing on the final months of the campaign between Barack Obama and John McCain.

At Home Elsewhere: Reading African American Classics in the Age of Obama (The W.E.B. DuBois Lectures)
Robert B. Stepto, professor of English, African American studies and American studies
(Harvard University Press)

Based on his W.E.B. DuBois Lectures, “At Home Elsewhere” juxtaposes Barack Obama’s autobiographical “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” with the works of prolific African-American writers, among them W.E.B. DuBois, Frederick Douglass, Toni Morrison, James Weldon Johnson and Nora Zeale Hurston. Stepto relates Obama’s struggle to find identity as a bi-racial American male while dealing with the absence of his black father with Douglass’ 1855 historical autobiography “My Bondage and My Freedom,” and explores the themes of racial identity, departure and desertion in Obama’s autobiography and other classic texts.

Nymph, Dun, and Spinner

Dolores Hayden, professor of architecture, urbanism and American studies
(WordTech Communications)

“Nymph, Dun and Spinner,” Dolores Hayden’s second collection of poetry, maps American landscapes and illuminates the natural and built worlds, from the paint colors on Kiowa tipis to the right angle grids of Shaker towns to the mimicry of fishing tackle.

How To Be French: Nationality in the Making Since 1789

Patrick Weil, visiting professor of law and the Robina Foundation International Fellow at Yale Law School
(Duke University Press)

Patrick Weil employs comparative techniques to dissect the history of French nationality laws from 1789 to the present. Originally published in France in 2002, this English translation offers lessons for discussing contemporary issues of nationality in France and other western nations, including the United States.

Alibis of Empire: Henry Maine and the Ends of Liberal Imperialism
Karuna Mantena, assistant professor of political science
(Princeton University Press)

Karuna Mantena examines how Henry Maine’s sociotheoretic model of “traditional” society laid the groundwork for a transformation of British imperial ideology in the late 19th-century. She maintains that as the British Empire gained its farthest reach, its ideology was being transformed by a self-conscious rejection of the liberal model, resulting as well in a shift in practice towards models of indirect rule.

Visions of Japanese Modernity: Articulations of Cinema, Nation and Spectatorship, 1895-1925
Aaron Gerow, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in film studies, and associate professor of East Asian languages and literatures
(University of California Press)

Aaron Gerow explains the processes by which film was defined, transformed and adapted during its first three decades in Japan, focusing in particular on how one trend in criticism — the Pure Film Movement — changed not only the way films were made but how they were conceived.

Slapped by the Invisible Hand: The Panic of 2007
Gary B. Gorton, the Frederick Frank Class of 1954 Professor of Management and Finance
(Oxford University Press)

Gary Gorton explores how the securitized-banking system, the nexus of financial markets and instruments unknown to most people, stands at the heart of the financial crisis. He demonstrates that the Panic of 2007 was not so different from earlier panics, except that, in 2007, most people had never heard of the markets that were involved, and didn’t know how they worked or what their purposes were.

Theophrastus On First Principles (Known as His Metaphysics)
Dimitri Gutas, professor of Arabic

Dimitri Gutas offers a critical edition of Theophrastus’ short essay “On First Principles” — thought to have been transmitted as his “Metaphysics” — bringing together for the first time all the available evidence: the Greek manuscripts and the medieval Arabic and Latin translations — along with an English translation, extensive commentary and a complete Greek and Arabic glossary.

Water Resources
Shimon Anisfeld, research scientist, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
(Island Press

“Water Resources” addresses the principal ecological and human problems related to water, including flooding, scarcity, climate change, technologies, ecosystem degradation, human health, agriculture, industry, inefficiency and inequity, and political conflict. Noting that billions of people in developing countries lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation, and that scarce water is leading to tensions throughout the world, Shimon Anisfeld argues for an improvement in water resource management and outlines some approaches to solving water issues.

Cooking with Chef Silvio: Stories and Authentic Recipes from Campania
Anthony V. Riccio, stacks manager, Sterling Memorial Library
(SUNY Press)

“Cooking with Chef Silvio” offers recipes that draw on southern Italy’s fresh vegetables and herbs as well as centuries of Roman, Arab, Spanish and French influences. Anthony Riccio includes stories behind the food, as well as a cultural and social history of a region as told through its cuisine.

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