Book Beat: November 1999

Age and Inequality: Diverse Pathways Through Later Life

Age and InequalityAngela M. Rand and John C. Henretta, Department of Sociology)
(Westview Press, 1999)
Available through Amazon

Age and Inequality examines the structural and individual bases of inequality and aging in the United States, especially in recent decades. The interplay of the employment system with public and private social insurance systems operates to structure the shapes of work careers and the patterns of exit from these careers in late adulthood and old age.

Gender inequality across the life course is an important element of age inequality. Labor market structure, state policies, and life-course factors, such as fertility and the division of household labor, systematically differentiate men's and women's work careers and retirement statuses.

- from book jacket


...Recent decades are notable for the decreasing importance of age for the conduct of more and more social roles. The age at which marriage, full-time work, childbearing, and retirement begin, and at which schooling, the work career, marriage, childbearing, and family care end, have become more variable. Historical circumstances have introduced succeeding cohorts to changing life conditions and new uncertainties, leading to a loosening of the association between age and social roles.

Increased variability in the life course is also associated with increased economic inequality....The United States exhibits among the highest levels of inequality across the age span, including perhaps the highest relative inequality among the elderly when compared to other nations.

Poetics/ Politics: Radical Aesthetics for the Classroom

Poetics/ Politics: Radical Aesthetics for the Classroomedited by Amitava Kumar, Department of English
(St. Martin's Press, 1999)
Available through Amazon

On the contested terrain of cultural studies, the debate has often focused on the blurring of the line between the poetic and the political. The future of the academic profession, the move toward a return to "literary readings" and the function/usefulness of art and poetry today are all tied up in this issue. The real need, however, is to complicate the argument between the two, and this volume address that need by using the classroom as the specific site for that critical practice.

- from book jacket


First, we need to invent, and keep inventing,...those strategies that reveal the fault lines of the real. This cannot only be a traditional, academic practice of ideology critique. By insisting upon the performative, I want to underline the importance of other practices, some more private but others emphatically more public, more spectacular, sometimes more ludic, and at other times more (or less) artful....

What kind of theater is a classroom? How precisely is a critic an actor? Why, and in what manner, should we consider writing, any writing, a performance?

Kick Ass: Selected Columns of Carl Hiaasen

Kick Ass edited by Diane Stevenson, Department of English
(University Press of Florida, 1999)
Available through Amazon

Beginning with "Welcome to South Florida," a chapter full of such everyday events as animal sacrifice, riots at the beach, and a shootout over limes at the supermarket, this collection organizes more than 200 columns into 18 chapters, chronicling the events and defining the issues that have kept the South Florida melting pot bubbling throughout the eighties and nineties. [Stevenson's] introductory essay provides an overview of Hiaasen's career and outlines his principal concerns as a journalist.

- from book jacket


Greed and its accompanying corruption...occupy one side of Hiaasen's clearly articulated system of right and wrong, while unspoiled wilderness lies on the other. The two are separated by what Skink, in Double Whammy, perceives to be "the moral seam of the universe" as he gazes at the dike separating a contaminated development from pristine swampland. Against this backdrop, events play out in Hiaasen's novels and columns, the moral landscape making almost tangible certain basic and universal values: we should be loyal to our friends, behave with civility and decency, earn our paychecks honestly, experience shame if we steal, preserve the world for our children, and never surrender—either our belief in these values, or to anyone who would violate them for personal gain. As Hiaasen says, "You try to be a good citizen wherever you live. Plant mangroves and don't piss in the water."

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