A Feast of Words

Emory faculty published prodigiously in 2011

By Mary J. Loftus

Photo

Bryan Meltz

Sure, there were appetizers, cheese, and wine. But the feast on December 7, 2011, hosted by the Academic Exchange and the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence in Emory’s Barnes and Noble bookstore, was a literary one, with faculty authors and editors and their books as the main course. As attendees mingled and received a toast from Provost Earl Lewis, the fruits of their labors filled the walls around them—more than one hundred books produced last year alone. Here is a sampling:

Lighter Subject: Charles Howard Candler Professor of Physics Sidney Perkowitz illuminates the physics of light and its remaining mysteries in Slow Light: Invisibility, Teleportation, and Other Mysteries of Light. Perkowitz discusses how light-harnessing technologies like lasers and fiber optics are transforming daily life, as well as the way light is used for entertainment and illusion. “In H. G. Wells’s story The Invisible Man, a scientist explains how he made himself invisible. He gets the optical theory exactly right, setting a marker for how to incorporate accurate science into a good story,” he tells the Science and Entertainment Exchange. “Maybe the best example of the physics of light in science fiction is how brilliantly movie special effects manipulate light.”

Voices Carry: Professor of English and African American Studies Lawrence P. Jackson has been awarded the tenth-annual William Sanders Scarborough Prize by the Modern Language Association (MLA) of America for his book The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934―1960, published in 2010. The prize is awarded for an outstanding scholarly study of black American literature or culture. The MLA selection committee described the book as a “magisterial narrative history of African American literature. . . . Beautifully written and rich in historical detail, The Indignant Generation should quickly become a standard work in twentieth-century African American studies and United States publishing history.”

All Wired Up: Professor of English Mark Bauerlein’s The Digital Divide is a compilation of essays by new media thought leaders (most with their own blogs) who write about the Internet’s impact on the social, personal, political, and cultural. Contributors include popular science author Steven Johnson; author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr; business executive and media consultant Don Tapscott; Life Inc. author Douglas Rushkoff; Distracted author Maggie Jackson; connectivity expert Clay Shirky; sociologist Todd Gitlin; and more.

Germ Pioneers: In Germ Theory: Medical Pioneers in Infectious Diseases, Associate Professor of Medicine Robert Gaynes tells the stories of a dozen people whose work changed the way we think about and treat infection, from Hippocrates and Avicenna to Paul Ehrlich and Lillian Wald. Readers will learn how Robert Koch discovered the bacterium that causes tuberculosis; how Edward Jenner, who discovered vaccination, faced down scores of disbelieving colleagues; and how a chance discovery led Louis Pasteur to the idea that virulence of microbes can be altered. Gaynes is also the host for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weekly MMWR podcast.

The Intuitive Nature of Religion: In Why Religion is Natural and Science Is Not, Professor Robert McCauley, a founder of the cognitive science of religion, posits that our minds are better suited to religious belief than to scientific inquiry. Religion exists in every culture, reaching back thousands of years, specifically because it is so well suited to the human mind, he says, while science is a more recent development because it requires abstract and complex thinking. McCauley is the director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture at Emory.

Heart of Dixie: Alabama native and Associate Professor of American Studies Allen Tullos explores why his home state seems unable to overcome inequities in Alabama Getaway: The Political Imaginary and the Heart of Dixie. Tullos investigates the legacy of George Wallace, challenges Alabaman Condoleezza Rice’s justification of the war in Iraq, and gives attention to the state’s black citizens who have worked tirelessly for inclusion.

Love as Fundamental Right: The Best Love of the Child: Being Loved and Being Taught to Love as the First Human Right, edited by Candler Professor of Christian Ethics Timothy Jackson, makes a convincing argument that being loved is the most fundamental right of all children and that society should make sure children are taught to love. “You only learn to love by first being loved, by receiving it while you’re still in need and without merit,” says Jackson, a senior fellow of Emory’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion. In The Best Love, twenty scholars offer perspectives on what is best for children and how to bring out the best in a child, including facilitating spirituality, sharing family stories, the duties of children, historical lessons in raising a loving child, and the legal responsibilities of parents.

An “Illegal” Life: Debates over immigration are deeply polarized, often resting on stereotypes, but the reality is nuanced, poignant, and complicated. Emory Scholar-in-Residence Marie Friedmann Marquadt’s Living “Illegal”: The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration recounts information gathered through years of research into the lives of migrants, real people and real families within communities. Living “Illegal” challenges assumptions about why immigrants come to the United States, where they settle, and what constitutes their support systems.

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