ARB Recommends: From the University of Chicago Press Fall 2020 Catalog

ARB Recommends is a regular column of ARB that covers seasonal catalogs from indie, trade, and academic publishers, highlighting the kinds of books our editors, contributors, and readers want to read. As a publication devoted to radical critical engagement with the world—and devoted to reviewing books and media that do this—it only makes sense for ARB to support publishers by showcasing the work they and their authors do.

ARB Recommends also serves as a “what to review” guide for those interested in contributing to ARB. Like what you see here? Reach out to us to review it!


This entry of ARB Recommends takes a look at the University of Chicago Press catalog for Fall 2020. UCP is one of the largest university presses is the world, and their catalog—at over 400 pages—showcases just how central UCP is to the university press world, in large part thanks to their role as a distributor for more than 50 smaller academic presses.

UCP is a leader in political science, cultural studies, and literary studies, and they are also one of the few academic presses with a solid trade publishing program. The full UCP Fall 2020 catalog can be downloaded here. All seasonal UCP catalogs are available here.

The books below emphasize trade history and cultural studies, environmental studies, and some interesting new work in literary history. Click the book images for links to buy.


Feminisms: A Global History

Update (9.16.2020): A reviewer has been secured for this book.

Lucy Delap
Nov. 2020 / $27.50 / 256 pp.

“Historian Lucy Delap looks to the global past to give us a usable history of the movement against gender injustice—one that can help clarify questions of feminist strategy, priority and focus in the contemporary moment. Rooted in recent innovative histories, the book incorporates alternative starting points and new thinkers, challenging the presumed priority of European feminists and ranging across a global terrain of revolutions, religions, empires and anti-colonial struggles.”

Elsewhere: A Journey into Our Age of Islands

Alastair Bonnett
Oct. 2020 / $25 / 272 pp.

“As we journey around the world with Bonnett, he addresses urgent contemporary issues such as climate change, economic inequality and the changing balance of world power as reflected in the fates of islands. Along the way, we also learn about the many ways islands rise and fall, the long and little-known history of human island building and the prospect that the inland hills and valleys will one day be archipelagos.”

Future Sea: How to Rescue and PRotect the World’s Oceans

Deborah Rowan Wright
Oct. 2020 / $22.50 / 200 pp.

“In Future Sea, ocean advocate and marine-policy researcher Deborah Rowan Wright provides the tools for that shift. Questioning the underlying philosophy of established ocean conservation approaches, Rowan Wright lays out a radical alternative: a bold and far-reaching strategy of 100 percent ocean protection that would put an end to destructive industrial activities, better safeguard marine biodiversity, and enable ocean wildlife to return and thrive along coasts and in seas around the globe.”

Cataclysms: An Environmental History of Humanity

Laurent Testot
Nov. 2020 / $25 / 272 pp.

“Testot explores the interconnected histories of human evolution and planetary deterioration, arguing that our development from naked apes to Homo sapiens has entailed wide-scale environmental harm. Testot makes the case that humans have usually been catastrophic for the planet, “hyperpredators” responsible for mass extinctions, deforestation, global warming, ocean acidification, and unchecked pollution, as well as the slaughter of our own species. […] Cataclysms unspools the intertwined saga of humanity and our environment.”

Wild THought: A New Translation of La Pensée sauvage

Claude Lévi-Strauss
Jan. 2021 / $20 / 328 pp.

“Unfortunately titled The Savage Mind when it first published in English in 1966, the original translation nevertheless sparked a fascination with Lévi-Strauss’s work among generations of Anglophone readers. Wild Thought […] rekindles that spark with a fresh and accessible new translation. Including critical annotations for the contemporary reader, it restores the accuracy and integrity of the book that changed the course of twentieth-century thought, making it an indispensable addition to any philosophical and anthropological library.”

Sun Ra’s Chicago: Afrofuturism and the City

William Sites
Nov. 2020 / $30 / 328 pp.

“In Sun Ra’s Chicago, William Sites brings this visionary musician back to earth—specifically to the city’s South Side, where from 1946 to 1961 he lived and relaunched his career. […] Sun Ra’s Chicago shows that late twentieth-century Afrofuturism emerged from a deep, utopian engagement with the city—and that by excavating the postwar black experience of Sun Ra’s South Side milieu, we can come to see the possibilities of urban life in new ways.”

The Singer’s Needle: An Undisciplined History of PANAMÁ

Ezer Vierba
Nov. 2020 / $30 / 352 pp.

The Singer’s Needle offers a bold new approach to the history of twentieth-century Panamá, one that illuminates the nature of power and politics in a small and complex nation. Using novelistic techniques, Vierba explores three crucial episodes in the shaping and erosion of contemporary Panamanian institutions […]. Skillfully blending historical sociology with novelistic narrative and extensive empirical research, and drawing on the works of Michel Foucault among others, Vierba shows the links between power, interpretation, and representation. The result is a book that deftly reshapes conventional methods of historical writing.”

A Rainbow Palate: HOW CHEMICAL DYES CHANGED THE WEST’S RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

Carolyn Cobbold
Sep. 2020 / $40 / 288 pp.

“In A Rainbow Palate, Carolyn Cobbold explores how the widespread use of new chemical substances influenced perceptions and understanding of food, science, and technology, as well as trust in science and scientists. Because the new dyes were among the earliest contested chemical additives in food, the battles over their use offer striking insights and parallels into today’s international struggles surrounding chemical, food, and trade regulation.”

Epidemic Empire: COLONIALISM, CONTAGION, AND TERROR, 1817–2020

Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb
Dec. 2020 / $35 / 392 pp.

“Terrorism is a cancer, an infection, an epidemic, a plague. For more than a century, this metaphor has figured insurgent violence as contagion in order to contain its political energies. In Epidemic Empire, Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb shows that this trope began in responses to the Indian Mutiny of 1857 and tracks its tenacious hold through 9/11 and beyond. The result is the first book-length study to approach the global War on Terror from a postcolonial literary perspective.”

Wildlife as Property Owners: A NEW CONCEPTION OF ANIMAL RIGHTS

Karen Bradshaw
Nov. 2020 / $27 / 152 pp.

“Anthropocentric property is a key driver of biodiversity loss, a silent killer of species worldwide. But as law and sustainability scholar Karen Bradshaw shows, if excluding animals from a legal right to own land is causing their destruction, extending the legal right to own property to wildlife may prove its salvation. Wildlife as Property Owners advocates for folding animals into our existing system of property law, giving them the opportunity to own land just as humans do—to the betterment of all.”

Weak Planet: LITERATURE AND ASSISTED SURVIVAL

Wai Chee Dimock
Oct. 2020 / $22.50 / 224 pp.

“Drawing on Native American studies, disability studies, and environmental humanities, Dimock shows how hope can be found not in heroic statements but in incremental and unspectacular teamwork. Reversing the usual focus on hegemonic institutions, she highlights instead incomplete gestures given an afterlife with the help of others.  […]  Celebrating literature’s durability as an assisted outcome, Weak Planet gives us new ways to think about our collective future.”

Experimental Games: CRITIQUE, PLAY, AND DESIGN IN THE AGE OF GAMIFICATION

Patrick Jagoda
Dec. 2020 / $27.50 / 320 pp.

“Drawing from his own experience as a game designer, Patrick Jagoda argues that games need not be synonymous with gamification. He studies experimental games that intervene in the neoliberal project from the inside out, examining a broad variety of mainstream and independent games, […] Jagoda imagines ways that games can be experimental—not only in the sense of problem solving, but also the more nuanced notion of problem making that embraces the complexities of our digital present. The result is a game-changing book on the sociopolitical potential of this form of mass entertainment”

Queer legacies: Stories from chicago’s lgbtq aRCHIVES

John D’Emilio
Sep. 2020 / $18 / 208 pp.

“John D’Emilio […] digs deep into the collection at the Gerbert/Hart Library to unearth a kaleidoscopic look at the community built by generations of gay men and women in Chicago. Excavated from one of the country’s most important, yet overlooked, LGBTQ archives, the stories included in his book are populated by athletes, lawyers, publishers, artists, performers, and organizers, […]. The breezy and enthusiastic essays that make up Queer Legacies range in focus from politics, culture, and social life to the history of institutions.”

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