U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Summer Reading

We have all danced around the subject of summer reading, as I have seen on Facebook and Twitter references made to (and photos of) books that folks have staked or packed.  I had also promised a couple of students in my spring semester class that I would send out a link to a post where this community chimed in about the books they thought worthwhile to explore.  So here is that post.

In my attempt to reconsider how American Studies might look to graduate students through a series of methods courses, I have picked up the following books to read this summer:

James Scott, Seeing Like a State

Dora Apel, War Culture and the Contest of Images

Franco Moretti, Distant Reading

Leonard Mlodinow, The Drunkard’s Walk

Nassim Taelb, The Black Swan

Tom Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis

Andrew Jewett, Science, Democracy, and the American University

Frank Donoghue, The Last Professors

What say ye?

3 Thoughts on this Post

  1. Great list!

    One of my colleagues is drawing heavily on Moretti for dissertation work, and has commended him to me for some methodological challenges I’m facing, so he is on my mental list. But if you’re going to be writing him up this summer, give us a heads up and maybe we can read along.

    Donoghue’s book on the academy is very good, though not very hopeful (which is part of what makes it good). And for that reason it may be a more salutary read in the long run than Menand. (Not that Menand is that hopeful either.) Donoghue’s book has the advantage of looking at the prestige economy of higher ed from a position that is heavily informed by and concerned with the role of the state universities — so, a little bit broader in its frame of reference. Donoghue and his book(s) also figure into my work (he was an assistant prof in the English dept at Stanford in the 1980s).

    As you know, I think Sugrue’s book is the bees knees. I hope you’ll write it up here, because I know you have mentioned Sugure in past posts as a key model / influence.

    And of course Jewett’s book is fantastic. Which reminds me…was there any discussion about publishing the roundtable on Jewett from last year’s USIH conference? It was really excellent.

    Anyway, thanks for posting this. My only certain non-research-related summer read is Fawcett’s Liberalism, just out from Princeton U. P. — we’ll be running some guest posts on that book later this summer. (I did buy a copy of Picketty yesterday, but I doubt I’ll get much reading done. However, the book is so big that it can double as a footrest.)

    Happy reading — keep us posted on how it goes.

  2. This might be one of those “Great minds…” moments, because I’m about to head to the library in a few and grab a reserved copy of “Distant Reading.” What really tipped me off to it was this post over on the US Sport History blog, about the big conference for the NASSC: http://ussporthistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/research-in-the-rockies-the-forty-second-annual-north-american-society-for-sport-history-convention/

    As for the list itself, it’s a great one, and very diverse. I’m doing three sets of reading: two for comps (19th and 20th century US) and a third for research. I’ve folded within research the “Liberalism” book reading I’m doing along with L.D. and Matt Linton, as well as the reading I’m doing for the reparations roundtable and the foreign policy roundtable.

    My research reading includes the following types of books and articles: works on US history since 1965, Southern Studies, African American Studies, and of course intellectual history. There is, for instance, an excellent roundtable that just came out in the Journal of American Studies about the present and future of Southern Studies titled, “What’s New in Southern Studies–And Why Should We Care?” I’m hoping to finish it this evening, but I’d recommend it as I think it relates nicely to the dialogue we had on the blog a few months back about American Studies, Southern Studies, and African American Studies.

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