UW News

August 2, 2018

UW books in brief: Urban diaries, battling Jim Crow on campus and more

UW News


collage of book covers

Recent notable books by University of Washington authors tell of the struggle to break free of racism in higher education, taking an “urban diary” approach to documenting city life and more.

Stifling academic expression on campus in the 1960s and beyond

Joy Williamson-Lott has been interested in the Black Power movement since she wrote her dissertation at the University of Illinois. Over time, as she examined how that activism played out in the South in the 1960s, she saw how colleges and universities stifled student expression and faculty academic freedom. Williamson-Lott, a professor in the UW College of Education, has turned her research on that era into a book, “Jim Crow Campus: Higher Education and the Struggle for a New Southern Social Order,” published in June by Teachers College Press.

Fifty years later, she says, those battles, and the racism underlying them, remain relevant in all parts of the country. “There’s something to be learned from the Southern experience,” Williamson-Lott says. “In a way, it wasn’t exceptional. It’s who we are as a nation.”

To learn more, contact Williamson-Lott at joyann@uw.edu.

* * *

Studying the use of secrets in world cinema

How are secrets employed and understood in international cinema? In a new book, Deborah Lynn Porter, associate professor in the Jackson School, explores the use of secrets in acclaimed films such as Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” and Alejandro Amenábar’s “The Others,” in which Nicole Kidman starred.

Porter’s book “Collective Trauma and the Psychology of Secrets in Transnational Film” was published in early 2018 by CRC Press. Publishers notes say the book “advances a methodological line of inquiry based on a fresh insight into the ways in which cinematic meaning is generated and can be ascertained.” The book analyzes the use of secrets in these films and more.

“It demonstrates how a rethinking of the figure of the secret in national film yields a new vantage point for examining heretofore unrecognized connections between collective historical experience, cinematic production and a transnational aesthetic of concealment and hiding.”

Transnational cinema, a growing concept in film studies, considers films that span national boundaries.

To learn more, contact Porter at debzport@uw.edu

* * *

Tool kit for urban observation promotes better planning, design

Personal observation remains an important way of understanding and improving cities, says Seattle-based attorney Charles R. Wolfe in his book “Seeing the Better City: How to Explore, Observe, and Improve Urban Space.” Wolfe is also an affiliate associate professor of urban design and planning in the UW College of Built Environments, where he teaches land use law at the graduate level.

Notes from publisher Island Press say that Wolfe takes an “urban diary” approach to describe how city dwellers can “catalog the influences of urban form, neighborhood dynamics, public transportation, and myriad other basic city elements that impact their daily lives” and use such observations to improve planning and design decisions.

“This type of close, thoughtful looking is a way to snap out of the stupor of the daily grind and parse the details that are so easily overshadowed. But … it is also a way to think about how to shape the future,” says a review on the Atlantic monthly’s website CityLab.

“Seeing the Better City” was an end-of-year book choice by KUOW Public Radio and was a finalist in the United Kingdom for a National Urban Design Award from the nonprofit Urban Design Group celebrating the best books on that topic.

To learn more, contact Wolfe at cwolfe@crwolfelaw.com.

* * *

‘Rethinking’ youth media empowerment

How do queer youth use media for self-expression, connection and public visibility? Who is best equipped to participate in meaningful ways, and where might social inequities be reproduced in the process of production?

A new book by Lauren Berliner, assistant professor in UW Bothell’s School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, combines three years of “participatory action research” with young media makers in San Diego with textual analysis of many youth-produced videos and media campaigns. “Producing Queer Youth: The Paradox of Digital Media Empowerment” was published this summer by Routledge.

In this way, Berliner examines how media makers at the margins negotiate funding and publicity and strategically produce their online identities.

Publishers notes say the book “unsettles assumptions that having a ‘voice’ and gaining visibility and recognition necessarily equate to securing rights and resources.

“Through her study of youth media practices within larger contexts of history and pedagogy, Routledge says, Berliner “reframes digital media participation as a struggle for ― rather than, in itself, evidence of ― power.”

To learn more, contact Berliner at lsb26@uw.edu.

* * *


UW faculty pen book chapters on environmental studies

A new textbook on environmental studies includes two chapters written by UW faculty members. “Companion to Environmental Studies,” published in May 2018 by Routledge, contains more than 150 short chapters written by leading international experts. Together they provide concise, authoritative and easy-to-use summaries of key issues, debates, concepts and current questions in environmental studies.

Karen Litfin, a UW associate professor of political science, authored a chapter on “Gaia.” Litfin is also the author of a 2014 book, “Ecovillages,” that describes a year of travels to sustainable communities around the world.

Stephen Warren, a UW professor emeritus of atmospheric sciences, authored a chapter on “Key Debates on Population and Global Demography.” The chapter covers issues such as causes of population growth, influence of education, demand for and access to contraception, and geographic variations. (Warren is also the author of a 2015 open-access academic article on population growth issues.)

To learn more, contact Warren at sgw@uw.edu or Litfin at litfin@uw.edu.