Columbia Ink

Dec. 20, 2013Bookmark and Share
William Kentridge and Nalini Malani: The Shadow Play as Medium of Memory
William Kentridge & Nalini Malani: The Shadow Play as Medium of Memory
BY ANDREAS HUYSSEN
Charta
In his latest book, Huyssen, the Villard Professor of German and Comparative Literature, compares the contemporary artwork of South African William Kentridge and Indian Nalini Malani. Both artists belong to a generation shaped by colonialism and decolonization. Both use shadow play, a centuries-old performance art, as a medium of memory in works widely considered to be highpoints of their respective careers. According to Huyssen, their works reflect on the long-term traces of historical trauma, partition and apartheid, using aesthetically complex forms rather than a documentary or explicitly political style.
     
A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda
BY JOSH RUXIN
Little, Brown and Company
In his memoir of his life as a health worker in Rwanda, Ruxin, an assistant clinical professor at the Mailman School of Public Health, tells a story of how two people can make a difference in a country where the scars of genocide linger and poverty is rampant. While Ruxin, director of the Earth Institute’s Millennium Villages Project in Rwanda, worked to bring food and health care to rural villages, his wife, Alissa, put their foodie expertise to work. The couple opened a gourmet restaurant, Heaven, that created much-needed jobs and proved that the survivors of Rwanda’s genocide could work together to create a community and help end poverty.
     
What Happened to Goldman Sachs: An Insider’s Story of Organizational Drift and Its Unintended Consequences What Happened to Goldman Sachs: An Insider’s Story of Organizational Drift and Its Unintended Consequences
BY STEVEN G. MANDIS
Harvard Business Review Press
Mandis, an adjunct associate professor at the Business School, depicts the evolution of Goldman Sachs from a private partnership to a global corporation, and shows how that transformation affected its organization and values. Drawing from firsthand experience, a wide range of interviews, and filings from the Securities and Exchange Commission, Congress and other sources, Mandis evaluates what made Goldman so successful, how it responded to pressures to grow, why it moved away from its partnership culture, what forces accelerated the drift, and why insiders can’t—or won’t—recognize this crucial change.
     
Hunting Season: Immigration and Murder in an All-American Town Hunting Season: Immigration and Murder in an All-American Town
BY MIRTA OJITO
Beacon Press
Drawing on firsthand interviews and on-theground reporting, Ojito, an assistant professor of journalism, casts an unflinching eye on the 2008 murder of Marcelo Lucero. An undocumented Ecuadorean immigrant in the Long Island village of Patchogue, Lucero was attacked and murdered by a group of teenagers out “hunting for beaners.” In the wake of his death, Patchogue was catapulted into the national limelight, becoming a symbol of everything that is wrong with the U.S. immigration system. Ojito crafts a portrait of one community struggling to reconcile the hate and fear underlying the idyllic veneer of their all-American town.
     
Breaking Out: An Indian Woman’s American Journey Breaking Out: An Indian Woman’s American Journey
BY PADMA DESAI
The MIT Press
In her memoir, Desai, the Gladys and Roland Harriman Professor of Comparative Economic Systems, tells her life story beginning with a strict, sheltered upbringing in provincial India in the 1930s through a failed marriage, conversion to Christianity and emigration to the United States. At Harvard, she met and eventually married celebrated economist Jagdish Bhagwati, now a University Professor at Columbia, and became both a mother and academic star in her own right. Desai describes her tumultuous road to assimilation and liberation with a scholar’s insights into culture and society and a novelist’s flair for language.
     
The Earthquake Observers: Disaster Science from Lisbon to Richter BY DEBORAH COEN No Ordinary Men: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hans von Dohnanyi, Resisters Against Hitler in Church and State
BY FRITZ STERN AND ELISABETH SEFTON
New York Review Books
Stern, University Professor Emeritus, and his coauthor tell the story of two men who opposed the Third Reich—the pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his close friend and brother-inlaw Hans von Dohnanyi. Bonhoeffer opposed Nazi efforts to bend Germany’s Protestant churches to Hitler’s will, while Dohnanyi, a lawyer in the Justice Ministry and then in the Wehrmacht’s counterintelligence section, helped victims, kept records of Nazi crimes and was involved in various conspiracies to assassinate Hitler. The authors offer new details and interpretations of the pair’s extraordinary efforts—activities that led to their execution in April 1945, just weeks before the Third Reich collapsed.
     
Deaths in Venice: The Cases of Gustav von Aschenbach Deaths in Venice: The Cases of Gustav von Aschenbach
BY PHILIP KITCHER
Columbia University Press
Published in 1913, Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice was later adapted as an opera by Benjamin Britten and turned into a film by Luchino Visconti. Now Kitcher, the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy, considers each one from a philosophical perspective, connecting the predicament of the novella’s central character, author Gustav von Aschenbach, to Western thought’s most compelling questions. He explores how each treatment illuminates the tension between social and ethical values and an artist’s sensitivity to beauty. And he finds that each work asks whether a life devoted to self-sacrifice in pursuit of lasting achievements can be sustained and whether the breakdown of discipline undercuts its worth.
     
Virtual Modernism: Writing and Technology in the Progressive Era Virtual Modernism: Writing and Technology in the Progressive Era
BY KATHERINE BIERS
University of Minnesota Press
Biers, an assistant professor of English and comparative literature, offers a fresh view of the emergence of American literary modernism in the early 20th century. She analyzes the works of five writers—Stephen Crane, Henry James, James Weldon Johnson, Djuna Barnes and Gertrude Stein—and argues that their formal experimentation was a response to the rise of mass communications technologies before World War I. But while they were inspired by the immediacy of mass culture, such as movies and recorded music, they also retained a faith in the representational power of language.
 
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