Read this as part of a freelance gig—indexing the book! Very interesting work, actually. Tedious in a very real way, but in the sort of way I actuallyRead this as part of a freelance gig—indexing the book! Very interesting work, actually. Tedious in a very real way, but in the sort of way I actually kind of enjoy? Nerd, yes. I learned a whole lot more than I thought I'd ever know about Iran's nuclear program and American/Western hypocrisy, ignorance, and double standards about said program....more
Illustrates different pastel painting techniques with step by step instructions for paintings, and also smaller painting exercises. Great for a beginnIllustrates different pastel painting techniques with step by step instructions for paintings, and also smaller painting exercises. Great for a beginner like myself!...more
Great starter book that doesn't just list techniques, it shows step by step instructions for creating a complete pastel painting for each technique diGreat starter book that doesn't just list techniques, it shows step by step instructions for creating a complete pastel painting for each technique discussed....more
1) I gave this book the academic read, i.e. I read the intro in full (and pretty closely), skimmed the chapters for their main points, and did some bi1) I gave this book the academic read, i.e. I read the intro in full (and pretty closely), skimmed the chapters for their main points, and did some bibliography mining. Bear this in mind re: subsequent comments ;)
2) With that disclaimer: I was really hoping this book would be useful for my work on U.S. evangelical political and cultural identity with regards to race—more specifically, whiteness. I was disappointed and perhaps unduly surprised to find almost no engagement with race, racism, or white supremacy as factors in the formation of white American evangelical political identity, beyond brief mentions here and there or references to other scholars' work. This is a problem. Why? Read on.
3) The book is a comparative study of political and national identity in two American and two Canadian churches, all predominantly white and evangelical. More specifically, it is an attempt to explain, through qualitative field research: - why Canadians in theologically and socially conservative evangelical churches show more political diversity than (mostly white) Americans in theologically and socially conservative evangelical churches. - why political positions common to American conservative evangelicals, such as opposition to the welfare state, are not common among Canadian conservative evangelicals.
4) Which brings us to the problem. The particular history and present day reality of racism and white supremacy in America is *so bound up* in white political identity in general and white evangelical political identity in particular that it is utterly bizarre that the book basically doesn't address that history or contemporary reality at all. You can't talk about U.S. white conservative evangelical opposition to welfare without taking into account the racialization and feminization of welfare in American public discourse—racist, misogynist framings of Black mothers as welfare queens. You can't talk about U.S. white conservative evangelical understanding of national identity as excluding anyone who isn't like them without talking about the Southern Strategy and racism and xenophobia in white evangelicalism. Several of the differences between Canadian and American conservative white evangelicalism that the book aims to explain significantly accounted for by the ongoing legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in the United States. That the discussion of race adds up to maybe 10 pages (generous estimate) in a 200+ page book is inexplicable.
5) The thesis and methodology of the book are definitely interesting. I would even go so far as to say that the thesis of the book is correct and potentially adds something really meaningful to current understandings of white evangelical identity in North America. But this only makes the omission of race more confusing, because the argument of the book—that the culture of local churches is responsible for differences in political identity between these two groups of evangelicals—would only be strengthened by taking into account how different the histories of anti-Black racism in Canada and the U.S. are from each other. All that to say, I not only found the book a lot less useful for my research than I was hoping, I found the lack of race analysis actively and progressively irritating, to the point where I don't think I can actually give it a star rating. There's useful stuff in here and the bibliography looks quite good on first glance at least, but I can't really assess the book in the sense of giving it a rating when it feels like at least half of it is just missing....more
Useful and fairly comprehensive reference in terms of the planning and process of creating an index. Not the place to find fine grained details aboutUseful and fairly comprehensive reference in terms of the planning and process of creating an index. Not the place to find fine grained details about styling and formatting, but good for understanding what indexers do, what the necessary components of an index are, and what kind of thinking goes into creating an index that will be a resource for the reader....more
Found a lot to relate to in this lyrical and poignant collection of stories by Daisy Hernandez. Hernandez weaves multiple narrative strands together:Found a lot to relate to in this lyrical and poignant collection of stories by Daisy Hernandez. Hernandez weaves multiple narrative strands together: stories of her parents' and their siblings emigration from Colombia and Cuba; of the ravages of colonialism on language, culture, and community; of compromise, negotiation, and syncretism between the faith and culture of the colonizers and the beliefs and traditions slaves brought with them to the Americas and transformed (often by necessity); of being caught between Spanish and English, between her native cultures and "American" culture, between ethnic pride and shame and pressure to assimilate to mainstream American culture; of loving a family and a culture that do not always love queer women like her back, or unconditionally; and tying all these together, of the importance of telling her and her family's stories on her own terms and in her own words. The only weakness is occasionally florid prose; otherwise, a moving and contemplative read....more
For a host of reasons, which I am debating whether or not to get into, I did not like this collection. I really, really, did not like it. Unpopular opFor a host of reasons, which I am debating whether or not to get into, I did not like this collection. I really, really, did not like it. Unpopular opinion, it seems, but I thought the collection failed on multiple levels.
ETA: Okay, to be more specific about the issues I had with the book:
The writing: I've read Roxane Gay's nonfiction essays in the past, including a few that were included in this book. I have generally found her writing to be artful. So it was a surprise to find so much of Bad Feminist is, from a craft perspective, quite poorly written. Several essays border on incoherent, with nonexistent transitions between one paragraph and the next, one thought and the next. If these were attempts at a stream of consciousness style, they didn’t work. The less rambly essays often read as unpolished or incomplete, again surprising given Gay’s ability. As a writer I’m always reading with an eye for unexpected or felicitous turns of phrase as I read—to learn from the creativity and craft of other writers. There were a few instances of this in Bad Feminist, but on the whole it felt like it fell far short of what Gay is otherwise routinely capable of as a writer.
The editing: Oh, lord, the editing. It is, no exaggeration, atrocious. From top to bottom. The collection is plagued by incoherence at multiple levels that it's an editor's job to weed out. The parts of an essay should, by its conclusion, come together to make a clear and coherent sum. Essays, arguments, and opinions shouldn't contradict another, or if they do, such contradictions should be at the very least acknowledged and ideally confronted head on. The connections between essays that are grouped together shouldn't be overbroad or tenuous. There's should be more of a throughline bringing a book of essays together than the mere fact that the same person wrote them. None of this is true in Bad Feminist. Worse still, there are some really basic and glaring lapses in editing that are just...frankly incomprehensible. One essay has clearly been updated to reflect more current events, but now-outdated information from a previous version has been left in (many of these essays—I think most—where published elsewhere first). The more current information and the older information are literally on pages facing each other—there's no excuse for the failure in editing there. In another essay Gay critiques a film through the lens of a trope that doesn't actually apply to the film. This despite the fact that the essay includes a definition of the trope that makes obvious that Gay is misapplying it. She doesn't mention the trope that actually applies until the end of the essay, and then only as an aside. It's an editor's job to fact check to make sure such basic errors don't make it into a final proof. Similarly, the problems with the writing mentioned above are an editor's job to identify and suggest ways to fix.
Too much recapping other people’s work: There is a large middle swath of Bad Feminist that consists of quippy summaries of books Gay has read and shows or movies she's watched, with a bit commentary or analysis. It's a strange choice, to have so much of the writing be descriptions of other people’s creative output—including several books that many readers would be (or at least this reader was) unfamiliar with. It's intended as pop criticism, but it’s mostly tedious recounting of things Gay likes, or doesn’t, for reasons that remain unclear. She doesn’t engage much with the stories she paraphrases, or remix themes or motifs she identifies in them (when she does, it’s unconvincing—like her elaboration on Kate Zambarro’s “Green Girl”). As it amounts to not much more than a list of things Gay has read or watched, there’s a big “So what” looming over these essays. I would have liked to have seen her make more of an intervention in these essays—again, either making something new out of the works she’s analyzing, or trying to say something new herself.
Originality: Unfortunately the above issue is characteristic of the entire book. To be fair, not every book has to be original. But one hopes it is at least interesting and compelling. I found Bad Feminist to be neither: The points and observations Gay does make herself (rather than assessments of other work) are expected, even outdated. I went in expecting something more than well worn laments about pay gaps, skewed gender ratios, or how Twilight and 50 Shades romanticize abusive relationships. These are all important topics, but they have been thoroughly discussed, and in more depth and detail than Gay ever gets into. Gay's feminism also feels very second wave, and still kind of rudimentary—just a, women should be able to have and do and feel and write the things men should. Great. True! But not very interesting.
I also had some serious objections to some of Gay's arguments and framings in Bad Feminist from a political/social justice perspective. There's more Black respectability politics in her writing than she seems to be aware of, and she borders on the self-righteous in her commentary on reality TV stars and other women who are habitually objectified by the media. Intersectionality is invoked in the beginning of the book, but there's not much in what follows about feminist liberation means for women of color, as opposed to “women” as an undifferentiated category.
An amazing collection of primary sources culled from Mississippi newspapers that chronicles Mississippi Summer Project organized by the Student Non-ViAn amazing collection of primary sources culled from Mississippi newspapers that chronicles Mississippi Summer Project organized by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and other civil rights organizations in 1964 (now more popularly known as "Freedom Summer"). Incredible to see how much has changed—the naked, overt racism and violent white supremacist rhetoric unabashedly published in mainstream papers—and how much remains the same. These sources show that the logic and ideology of anti-Black conservative politics remains largely unchanged from the era of Jim Crow to today; there's far less use of the n-word and much more coded racism, but the underlying arguments leveled by conservatives against efforts towards racial justice and equity, then and now, are virtually identical. Also worth reading for a person in the street perspective from white Mississippians on segregation and civil rights activism. Some of the letters to the editor in this collection are frankly astounding, and yet also disturbingly familiar in their rhetoric (e.g., "The white man is now a slave in his own country"). An illuminating read....more
I will definitely be writing a longer review of this. Suffice it for now to say that it's a masterful and paradigm-changing exploration of what it meaI will definitely be writing a longer review of this. Suffice it for now to say that it's a masterful and paradigm-changing exploration of what it means for literature to be "American." Specifically, what does it mean that the vast majority of literary criticism has ignored or overlooked the centrality of Blackness - Black characters, the imagery and vocabulary of Blackness in texts, and silences and erasures around Blackness - in American literature, from its earliest examples. Morrison convincingly argues that there is no real understanding of the American "canon" without reckoning with this pervasive deployment and concealment of Blackness in our national literature. It's a paradigm-shifting claim, since it means that virtually all traditional scholarly interpretation of American literature is seriously incomplete, if not entirely wrong.
I often waver on what rating to give a book - in terms of what *I* got out of the book personally, I'd probably give it a 4. This isn't any fault of the book or Morrison's; it's simply because I haven't read any of the texts that she focuses on in these essays. While I followed her argument, I would have gotten even more out of it had I been familiar with the texts she discusses. But as a work of craft - the prose, the cogency of the argument, and the incredible significance to scholarship on American literature and history - this is absolutely a 5....more
An excellent and overdue account of how evangelical demand for adoptions is sharping the global adoption industry. Very worth the read. More detailedAn excellent and overdue account of how evangelical demand for adoptions is sharping the global adoption industry. Very worth the read. More detailed review to come....more
Not as much practical advice as one might hope, but it is amusing. The main takeaway is it's useless to feel awful about being a procrastinator. InsteNot as much practical advice as one might hope, but it is amusing. The main takeaway is it's useless to feel awful about being a procrastinator. Instead, recognizing that procrastinators still get lots of things done and use that tendency to structure procrastination - to avoid things that seem urgent but aren't really, and focus on other things that are more pertinent to one's productivity and happiness. There are a few useful tips in this direction, but again, not many....more
Great explanations from real life examples of how ADD/ADHD makes organization and decision-making difficult, and lots of practical tips for managing aGreat explanations from real life examples of how ADD/ADHD makes organization and decision-making difficult, and lots of practical tips for managing and working with ADD/ADHD traits to form new habits. I particularly like how the book is laid out to be friendly to the attention challenged reader - concepts and tips are presented in short, telegraphed, and easily digestible sections, and the key points of each chapter are repeated in different ways so they aren't lost. Clearly written and a very quick read - it's easy to skim through for the parts that are most relevant and revisit those in more detail. The authors also offer three levels of suggestions in each chapter: changes ADD/ADHD people can make on their own, changes they can make with the help of family and friends, and changes that call for professional assistance. It is a bit overwhelming that it covers so many different kinds of disorganization and that there are so many methods offered; as the authors suggest, it's best to start working on just a few habits rather than trying to implement all the suggestions at once....more
Smith's account of the many, many ways state and societal violence have been and continue to be perpetrated against indigenous people (focusing mostlySmith's account of the many, many ways state and societal violence have been and continue to be perpetrated against indigenous people (focusing mostly on the Americas) is a difficult but necessary read. Seriously, all non-indigenous Americans should read this book. Longer thoughts coming.
eta:Conquest starts with the observation that sexual and reproductive violence against Native women are forms of racial and colonial violence, unpacking the various ways in which sexual violence "serves the goals of colonialism," an examination that Smith argues "forces us to reconsider how we define sexual violence, as well as the strategies we employ to eradicate gender violence." In her analysis, environmental racism and exploitation, forced assimilation/cultural genocide, spiritual appropriation, medical discrimination, and colonialism/empire are all connected to sexual and reprodutive violence against Native people.
Examples: - Conquest pushes the definition of sexual violence to include reproductive violence and injustice. White/Western medicine has a long history of nonconsensual sterilization of and experimentation on Native bodies. Native women have been disproportionately exposed to more dangerous or experimental forms of birth control, often without their informed consent. Medical discrimination and systemic, racialized poverty mean that Native women and communities have less access to birth control, abortion, and maternal/family health services. - Smith also explores the impact of environmental racism and exploitation on reproductive and family health in Native communities (“women of color are suffering not only from environmental racism but environmental sexism” - p. 69). The burden of environmental pollution from toxic wastes, weapons testing, workplace exposure, and other sources disproportionately fall on people of color - e.g., reservations and other Native lands are frequent sites of waste dumps, mining for radioactive materials, and nuclear testing. These environmental injustices lead to higher rates of conditions like ovarian cancer, miscarriages and stillbirths, and birth anomalies in Native communities. - The long history of forced assimilation and cultural genocide through the boarding school system (Native children were taken from their communities to be “educated” into conforming to Christian/Western culture) meant Native youth were subjected to rampant abuses, including a high incidence of sexual abuse. The boarding school system also undermined the stability of Native families and communities, introduced patterns of gendered violence into these communities, and worked to displace traditions that provided Native women with positions of leadership with Western patriarchal norms. - Smith connects systemic appropriation of Native religious practices to the idea that Native bodies are inherently “rapable.” Appropriation of Native spiritualities is part of white/Western “taking [from Native people] without asking” that assumes the “needs of the taker are paramount and the needs of others are irrelevant, [mirroring] the rape culture of the dominant society” (126).
Smith shows how both colonizing cultures and mainstream social justice movements rely on historical and cultural narrative that requires Native people to "play dead." That is, we systematically pretend that Native Americans are long gone, absent, or vanishing. Indigenous people are either living relics or imagined symbols of a mythical past, which we can then ignore or appropriate the “memory” of as convenient ("Kate Shanley notes that Native peoples are a permanent “present absence” in the U.S. colonial imagination, an “absence” that reinforces at every turn the conviction that Native peoples are indeed vanishing and that the conquest of Native lands is justified.")
This tendency to treat Native communities as "dead" is evident in modern social justice movements, for example, in how mainstream environmentalism doesn’t center Native communities or even form pro-environment alliances with them, instead allying with groups that often have racist, classist, and anti-immigrant agendas (dedicated to “reducing population growth of all peoples in theory and of people of color in reality” - 78). Alarmist rhetoric about overpopulation is often a thin veil for implicit or overt prejudice against communities of color and a desire to restrict their reproduction, growth, and even movements. At the time of the book's writing, e.g., prominent members of the Sierra Club were also members of the anti-immigrant group FAIR; Smith also documents attempts to pressure the Sierra Club into advocating anti-immigrant positions. Meanwhile, mostly white/non-indigenous environmentalist groups often push for land “protection” policies that are harmful to Native people actually living on/off the land in question.
The major example Smith gives of how mainstream activism expects Native women in particular to “play dead” is the failure of both anti-racists/indigenous activists and advocates against domestic violence to center Native women in their work. Conquest calls on activists in both communities to adopt intersectional and community-based approaches to combating racism and gender violence together.
Approaches to gendered violence that rely heavily on state/police intervention and the prison system only address violence after the fact and have limited use in preventing domestic violence or protecting survivors in general. For Native women, Smith argues, these approaches are actively harmful in a culture where Native women, other women of color, and people of color in general are disproportionately and often unjustly incarcerated, and in a culture where state violence (police brutality, racism and sexism in the prison system, etc) are a major cause of and contributor to gender violence in Native communities.
Instead, Smith calls for domestic violence prevention and survivor support strategies that are based in community accountability and redressing economic injustices that make women of color more vulnerable to abuse and less able to leave abusive homes or partners. This model means creating communities that are educated about domestic violence, intervene in abusive situations, hold abusers accountable, and materially support survivors. The long-term goal of such a model would be to build “communities where violence becomes unthinkable” by fostering real communal consequences for and responses to abuse.
One thing I really appreciated about Smith’s take on community-based responses to violence is that she acknowledges the the serious obstacles that exist to putting it into practice effectively:
Sometimes it is easy to underestimate the amount of intervention that is required before a perpetrator can really change his behavior. Often a perpetrator will subject her/himself to community accountability measures but eventuality will tire of them. If community members are not vigilant about holding the perpetrator accountable _for years_ and instead assume he or she is 'cured,' the perpetrator can turn a community of accountability into a community that enables abuse. (164)
In addition to this, so much of what allows abusers to get away with violence is community investment in preserving the group. Or rather, a particular understanding of group “safety” that often means that the safety of vulnerable members of the group - often women and children - is treated as less of a priority. What Smith argues for is a reversal of this mindset, to one where the wellbeing and safety of women and youth (rather than the protection of abusers) are seen as central to the health of the community. But this requires a pretty radical cultural shift for many communities. For this reason I have a lot of concerns about the effectiveness of community-based approaches in keeping survivors and vulnerable populations safe and keeping abusers to account (of course, the current system isn’t terribly effective, either).
All in all, Conquest is a great book, persuasively and clearly written. Some historians might be skeptical of how Smith works with chronology and geography, jumping back and forth between different periods and places. I think it's very effective at showing the continuities between the genocide and exploitation of indigenous peoples that we think of as being in the past and the present, global realities of state and interpersonal violence against indigenous people. Conquest raises a lot of thought-provoking questions that the mainstream feminist and anti-violence movements still haven’t started to grapple with, but really need to....more
Good, practical advice, clearly presented. Very quick read for anyone who's been blogging for a while - you can skim and go back to look more closelyGood, practical advice, clearly presented. Very quick read for anyone who's been blogging for a while - you can skim and go back to look more closely at the points most relevant to your blog....more
The right brain/left brain stuff is more than a little woo woo and is rather annoying as the main framework for Peterson's advice on working through wThe right brain/left brain stuff is more than a little woo woo and is rather annoying as the main framework for Peterson's advice on working through writer's block. Answering questions with my dominant and then nondominant hand gave me the same or almost identical answers on most of the exercises I bothered with. But there's useful information in here about the kinds of attitudes and mindsets that contribute to writer's block, on task and mood management, self-care, etc. It would be nice if the task management charts were available to download and print out - I hate writing in books, much less tiny books like this one, and the charts seem like they'd useful to have on hand outside the book. As it is I made some copies for my personal use....more