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Book Beat: March 1998

Recent Publications from CLAS faculty

Aliens of Affection

Aliens of AffectionPadgett Powell, Department of English 
(Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1998)
Available through Amazon

Aliens of Affection marks new territory for Padgett Powell, picking up where his first collection of stories, Typical, left off. Although his characters continue to revolt against the received instructions of modern American living - refusing to be dunked in what Saul Bellow has called the "marinade of correctness" their concerns are less for independence than for the maintenance of sanity itself. In this sometimes surrealistic terrain, "affection was that which, and the only thing on earth which, you should be eternally thankful for."  Emotional estrangement seems both inevitable and worth fighting against to the middle-aged heroine of the O. Henry prizewinner "Trick or Treat"; to the unmistakably American roofer of "Wayne" (who was introduced in Typical); to the deserted husband, father and non-vet of "Dump"; and to the fantastic heroes in three stories grouped as "All Along the Watchtower."  The nine stories collected here are hilarious, wrenching, pessimistic, buoyant, low-down, high-strung, and impeccably written.

- Publisher


(excerpt from "Scarliotti and the Sinkhole")

"Do you want to go on a date?" he asked her, his head still down as if he were weeping.

"No." She rang up the beer.

"Any day now I will be pert a millionaire."


"Good? Good? Shit. A millionaire."

She started chewing rapidly again. "Go ahead and be one," she said.

"You don't believe me?"

"You going to be Arnold Schwarznegger, too?"

This stopped Scarliotti. It was a direction he didnít understand. He made a guess. "What? You don't think I'm strong?" Before the girl could answer, he ran over to the copy machine and picked up a corner of it and would have turned it over but it started to roll and got away and hit the magazine rack. Suddenly, inexplicably, he was sad. He did not do sad. Sad was bullshit.

Spinning Fantasies:  Rabbis, Gender, and History

Spinning Fantasies:  Rabbis, Gender, and HistoryMiriam B. Peskowitz, Department of Religion 
(University of California Press, 1998)
Available through Amazon 

In the aftermath of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by Roman armies in 70 C.E., new incarnations of Judaism began to emerge. Of these rabbinic Judaism was the most successful, developing as the  classical form of the religion. By researching ancient stories involving Jewish spinners and weavers, Peskowitz reexamines this critical moment in Jewish history, presenting a feminist interpretation in which gender takes center stage. She shows how notions of female and male were developed by the rabbis of Roman Palestine, and why these distinctions were so important in the development of this religious tradition. Rabbinic attention to women, men, sexuality, and gender took place within the "ordinary tedium of everyday life, in acts that were both familiar and mundane."  However, Peskowitz argues that gender was most powerful in those things so prevalent and repetitive that they eventually became invisible. While spinners and weavers performed what seemed like ordinary tasks, their craft was in fact symbolic of larger gender and sexual issues. It is through this study of the imagery and remains of spinning that Peskowitz shows how gender and rabbinic Judaism were indeed inextricable.

- Publisher


To call a man a weaver casts aspersion and suspicion on his masculinity. Spinning too was a trope of transgression. When Juvenal, through his character Laronia, critiques men for spinning more deftly than Penelope, he chastises men who do not uphold the properties of masculinity. The masculinity of these men does not  establish sufficiently clear differences between them and women's femininity. Another effect of this discourse is to portray men of nonelite classes as feminine. Weavers were lower-status workers, whether slave, freed, or freeborn. Written into life with a distinctively sexualized timbre, these men are different from elite men, and as such, help to establish the masculinity that makes elite men superior.

QVI  MISCVIT  VTILE  DVLCI:  Festschrift Essays for Paul Lachlan MacKendrick

QVI  MISCVIT  VTILE  DVLCI:  Festschrift Essays for Paul Lachlan MacKendrickEdited by Gareth Schmeling, Department of Classics 
(Bolchzy-Carducci Publishers, Inc., 1998)

The essays by students and colleagues of Paul MacKendrick are gathered here to recognize the career of a distinguished classicist. We suppose that a collection of essays for Paul MacKendrick should have been entitled Saxa Loquuntur - in imitation of his best known works. But Paul was interested in many areas - the diversity of these collected essays reflects some of those interests:  long before it was fashionable to do so, Paul employed anthropological methodology to combine the various skill areas in Classics (epigraphy, archaeology, literature, philosophy, history) to help put together all the tesserae in the Classics mosaic.   As students we joked that Romans on the Rhine might have been entitled The Rhinestones Speak and that The Romans in France might have been de Gaulle Stones Speak. But we were envious as hell and knew a ludi magister when we met one. Papers graded in great detail in red ink in that minute hand of his and signed PLM demanded our attention.

- Publisher

International Journal of Quantum Chemistry Special Issue:  The Properties of Molecules in Strong Magnetic Fields

International Journal of Quantum Chemistry Special Issue:  The Properties of Molecules in Strong Magnetic FieldsEditor-in-Chief: Per-Olov Löwdin,Editor: Yngve Ohrn
Associate Editors: John Sabin & Michael Zerner, Quantum Theory Project 
(John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998)

International Journal of Quantum Chemistry is devoted to Quantum Theory and Computations in Chemistry, Condensed Matter Physics, and Biology. The journal presently publishes twenty eight regular issues each year forming five volumes and the proceedings of the Sanibel symposia. Some of the regular issues are devoted to the proceedings of various inter-national conferences or to special themes to be discussed in the form of "paper symposia", and some are at the same time dedicatory issues honoring some outstanding pioneer(s) in the field. The major research centers in the field are further invited, from time to time, to submit progress reports about their work.

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