Book Beat: May 1999

Environmentalism for a New Millennium: The Challenge of CoevolutionEnvironmentalism for a New Millennium: The Challenge of Coevolution

Leslie Paul Thiele, Department of Political Science
(Oxford University Press, 1999)
Available through Amazon

Through extensive interviews and a critical study of environmental publications and scholarly research, the author provides an inside look at the environmental movement. His analysis illuminates the social, economic, political and cultural forces that shape the environmental movement today and set its trajectory for the 21st century. Anyone interested in environmentalism will find this book an invaluable guide.

- Publisher


The coevolutionary perspective is grounded in the belief that, viewed globally and in the long term, the protection of human welfare and the preservation of the natural environment are mutually reinforcing. Coevolutionary biology emerged as a field of study in the 1960s. In its original context, coevolution describes the processes whereby the evolutionary paths of two or more species that maintain a close ecological relationship largely depend on the patterns of their interactions....

To care for the long-term preservation of biodiversity, one first has to be able to care for the short-term preservation of one's economic security and health. Richard Leakey put the point succinctly when he said: "To care about the environment requires at least one square meal a day." Minorities and the poor generally maintain that the basic needs of healthy food, decent housing, and a toxic-free environment rank above the aesthetic and spiritual benefits of wilderness. Until these basic needs are sufficiently satisfied, the latter goods will not be embraced.

The Films of Oshima Nagisa: Images of a Japanese IconoclastThe Films of Oshima Nagisa: Images of a Japanese Iconoclast

Maureen Turim, Department of English
(University of California Press, 1999)
Available through Amazon

Maureen Turim employs psychoanalytic and postmodern theory to explore the films' complex representations of women in Japanese society as well as the films' political engagement with the Japanese student movement, postwar anti-American sentiments, and critiques of Stalinist tendencies of the left. Turim pairs discussion of Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence with analysis of the psycho-sexuality of war depicted in Oshima's early adaptation of Oe Kenzaburo's The Catch.

- Publisher


The forces shaping Oshima's entry into the film industry are those of a generalized move toward independent production in the postwar period, with the studios scrambling to co-opt the independents, either by making at least some of their features look like independents, by buying independent companies, or by hiring the independent directors. Cinema as an industry must renew itself as it confronts a crisis...Oshima and an extraordinary collection of other talented assistant directors were able to seize this opportunity, to market their will to innovation and artistic expression, in some cases joining this with political expression that pushed at the limits of what that industry would allow.

Hasty BookA Companion to Wolfram's Parzival

edited by Will Hasty, Department of Germanic & Slavic Studies

The original essays in this volume, written by a dozen Wolfram experts working in Europe and the United States, provide a definitive treatment in English of significant aspects of Wolfram's incomparable rendering of the quest for the grail (Wolfram's modes of narrative presentation, his relationship to his sources, his portrayal of the grail), and of some of the broader social and cultural issues it raises (the theology of the Fall, the status of chivalric self assertion, the characterization of women, the modern reception of Parzival).

- Publisher


Whether seen as sacred or profane, as religious kingdom on earth or as mythic otherworld, the wilderness of Parzival's adventures that is organized around the grail kingdom seems to present itself above all as a space of profound psychological and spiritual reflection. In these wilderness spaces, and in the relatively complex figures who occupy them (who for the most part seem a quite a bit more complex than the hero himself), we seem among other things to witness different ways of coming to grips with the damaging effects of chivalry, but in ways that are as demonstrative of a continuation of worldly, courtly/chivalric concerns as of a qualification or criticism of them.

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