New Books Network

Miryam Sas, “Experimental Arts in Postwar Japan: Moments of Encounter, Engagement, and Imagined Return” (Harvard University Asia Center, 2011)
Miryam Sas’ Experimental Arts in Postwar Japan: Moments of Encounter, Engagement, and Imagined Return (Harvard University Asia Center, 2011) is an exceptionally rich study that has a great deal to offer scholars across the humanities. The book looks at the experimental arts in postwar Japan in a study that ranges... Read More
Andrew Field, “Shanghai’s Dancing World: Cabaret Culture and Urban Politics, 1919-1954” (The Chinese University Press, 2010)
“To think of Shanghai is to think of its nightlife: the two are synonymous.” From here, Andrew Field takes us on a dance across modern Chinese history, through its nightscapes and ballrooms, into the sprawls of its settlements and the pages of its pictorials. Based on a wide range of... Read More
David Ciarlo, “Advertising Empire: Race and Visual Culture in Imperial Germany” (Harvard UP, 2011)
If you’re a native-born American, you’re probably familiar with Aunt Jemima (pancake syrup), Uncle Ben (precooked rice), and Rastus (oatmeal)–commercial icons all. They were co-oped in whole or part from stock characters in American minstrel shows, largely because they suggested to white consumers a comforting though bygone hospitality. Aunt Jemima... Read More
Allen Guttmann, “Sports and American Art from Benjamin West to Andy Warhol” (University of Massachusetts Press, 2011)
When I was a kid, I used to pore over an illustrated history of American sports that I had received as a birthday gift. The oversized, hardcover book featured some of the iconic images of 20th-century sports: Lou Gehrig standing humbly at home plate on his day of tribute, teammates... Read More
Erin Haney, “Exposures: Photography and Africa” (Reaktion Books, 2010)
In Chapter 3 of Erin Haney’s excellent book Photography and Africa (Reaktion Books, 2010) there are seven photos taken in central Africa at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Six advertise progress – from the smartly dressed and armed native troops (though still barefoot) to a posed photograph... Read More
Antonia Levi, Mark McHarry, and Dru Pagliasotti, “Boy’s Love Manga: Essays on the Sexual Ambiguity and Cross-Cultural Fandom of the Genre” (McFarland, 2010)
Growing up in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Indy-car racing offered my friends and me some very exciting heroes. As children, we played “Indy 500” on our bikes in the cul-de-sac. As we became teenagers, the Indy-car drivers who descended on our city in April and May became some of our... Read More
Lee Ambrozy, “Ai Weiwei’s Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009” (MIT Press, 2011)
Anyone who has been following the news this year has likely heard of Ai Weiwei. This provocative and gifted Chinese artist-activist has made 2011 headlines for his controversial work Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads and for his recent arrest by Chinese police. What has been less widely appreciated is Ai’s profound... Read More
Bhanu Athaiya, “The Art of Costume Design” (HarperCollins, 2010)
Bollywood, the Hindustani film genre based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), has long been known for its lavish costumes and sets. Now comes a sumptuous book from a master costume designer, and the first ever Indian to win an Oscar, Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya. Her The Art of Costume Design (New Delhi:... Read More
Benjamin Binstock, “Vermeer’s Family Secrets: Genius, Discovery, and the Unknown Apprentice” (Routledge, 2009)
Ben Binstock‘s Vermeer’s Family Secrets: Genius, Discovery, and the Unknown Apprentice (Routledge, 2009) is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. It does what all good history books should do–tell you something you thought you knew but in fact don’t–but it does it ON EVERY PAGE. I... Read More
Kyra Hicks, “This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers’ Bible Quilt and Other Pieces” (Black Threads Press, 2009)
I’ll tell you something I’ve never really understood: the difference between “art” and “craft.” Yes, I get the sociological difference (“art” is made in New York and Paris; “craft” is made in Omaha and Wichita), but what about the substantive difference? One common way to differentiate the two is to... Read More