UW News

April 29, 2020

UW books in brief: Chinese funerary biographies, skin lighteners through history, NYC neighborhood gentrification study, Arthurian verse-novel in translation

Recent notable books by University of Washington faculty members look at gentrification and inequity in a New York neighborhood, skin lighteners though history, female agency in Arthurian legend and biographical epitaphs in China across many centuries.

UW Bothell’s Christian Anderson explores gentrification of a NYC neighborhood in ‘Urbanism Without Guarantees’

University of Minnesota Press

The gentrification of a single street in New York City’s Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood is the scene for this in-depth ethnographic study of urban transformation by Christian Anderson, associate professor in the UW Bothell School of Interdisciplinary Arts.

Urbanism Without Guarantees: The Everyday Life of a Gentrifying West Side Neighborhood” was published in March by University of Minnesota Press. The book looks at how residents work to preserve the quality of life of their neighborhood and both define and maintain their values of urban living, taking actions that connect their daily lives to broader structural inequities, for better and worse.

Notes from the publisher call it “a unique more-than-capitalist take on urban dynamics,” adding, “Examining how residents are pulled into these systems of gentrification, Anderson proposes new ways to think and act critically and organize for transformation of a place — in actions that local residents can start to do wherever they are.”

For more information, contact Anderson at cmander@uw.edu.


Lynn Thomas studies skin lighteners through history in new book

credit=”Duke University PressDuke University Press

Skin lighteners have been used by consumers for centuries even while being opposed by medical professionals, consumer health advocates and antiracist thinkers and activists.

In her new book, UW history professor Lynn Thomas traces the changing meanings of skin color, in South Africa and beyond, from precolonial times to the present.

Beneath the Surface: A Transnational History of Skin Lighteners” was published in January by Duke University Press.

Thomas shows how “the use of skin lighteners and experiences of skin color have been shaped by slavery, colonialism and segregation, as well as consumer capitalism, visual media, notions of beauty, and protest politics,” publisher’s notes said.

Calling the book “nothing short of a tour de force,” one reviewer wrote: “Carefully attending to the complex politics of race and color that are grounded in skin, Thomas at once provides a vibrant history of South Africa and a global history of commodity, beauty and the body. This landmark study sets a new standard in the field.”

For more information contact Thomas at lynnmt@uw.edu.


Remembered lives: Historian Patricia Ebrey co-edits book on Chinese funerary biographies

"Chinese Funerary Biographies: An Anthology of Remembered Lives," co-edited by UW history professor Patricia Ebrey and published in January by University of Washington Press.Funerary biographies are epitaphs engraved on stone and placed in a grave. They usually focus on the deceased’s life, words and deeds. Tens of thousands of these biographies survive from Imperial China, providing a glimpse into the lives of many people not documented by more conventional sources.

Chinese Funerary Biographies: An Anthology of Remembered Lives,” co-edited by UW history professor Patricia Ebrey, is an anthology of translations of such funerary biographies covering nearly 2,000 years — from the Han dynasty through the 19th century. The book was published in January by University of Washington Press.

Editing the volume with Ebrey were Ping Yao of California State University and Cong Ellen Zhang of the University of Virginia.

Biographies in the anthology, UW Press notes say, were chosen for their value as teaching material on Chinese history, literature, and women’s studies as well as world history. “Because they include revealing details about personal conduct, families, local conditions, and social, cultural, and religious practices, these epitaphs illustrate ways of thinking and the realities of daily life.”

Ebrey is the author or editor of several books on China, most recently “Emperor Huizong,” in 2014.

For more information, contact Ebrey at ebrey@uw.edu.


Annegret Oehme of Germanics publishes book on adaptations of Arthurian tale

"He Should Have Listened to His Wife: The Construction of Women's Roles in German and Yiddish Pre-Modern 'Wigalois' Adaptations" by Annegret Oehme was published in January by De Gruyter. Annegret Oehme, an assistant professor in the Department of Germanics, has published a new book about adaptations and translations of Wigalois, a centuries-old tale describing the adventures of an Arthurian knight, across different languages and media.

He Should Have Listened to His Wife: The Construction of Women’s Roles in German and Yiddish Pre-Modern ‘Wigalois’ Adaptations” was published in January by De Gruyter.

The publication explores two previously dismissed pre-modern adaptations of the Middle High German 1215 verse-novel “Wigalois,” and their different approaches to female agency in comparison with the original text and later Yiddish and German versions, in the 14th and 15th centuries respectively.

Read more on the department website. For more information, contact Oehme at oehme@uw.edu.


Other book notes:

Epilogue on ecocriticism: Louisa Mackenzie, UW associate professor of French, has written the epilogue for a new book that discusses the relationship between contemporary ecological thought and early modern French literature.

Early Modern Écologies: Beyond English Ecocriticism,” edited by Pauline Goul of Vassar and Phillip Usher of New York University, was published in March by Amsterdam University Press.

Publisher’s notes say the volume “foregrounds not how ecocriticism renews our understanding of a literary corpus, but rather how that corpus causes us to rethink or to nuance contemporary eco-theory.”

Read more on the French & Italian Studies Department website.



What are you reading? UW Notebook seeking ‘comfort reading’ recommendations

Though faculty and staff continue to work hard during the coronavirus shutdown, some of us may also have a little more time on our hands for reading. Sometimes an old favorite book can be a comfort.

What are you reading to relax these days? What books would you recommend to fellow faculty and staff as comfort reading?

For me, it’s a re-read of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Two Towers” and classic science fiction short stories by Ray Bradbury in “The Illustrated Man.” And then maybe an epic novel by Herman Wouk — or even a midsummer revisit to “Charlotte’s Web.”

UW faculty and staff colleagues: Email me at kellep@uw.edu and I’ll mention some favorite books in subsequent book stories, and possibly on social media.UW Notebook.