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Book Beat: December 2002

One Nation Under a Groove: Rap Music and Its Roots

One Nation Under a Groove: Rap Music and Its Roots by James Haskins, Department of English
(Hyperion, 2002)
Available through Amazon

While teaching at an elementary school in Harlem in the 1960s, English Professor James Haskins had a hard time finding books about African-American role models to read to his students. He complained each night by writing in his diary about the lack of reading material written on African Americans.

"There was nothing in the public libraries or in our school library that had anything to do with African Americans," Haskins says. "So when my diary fell into the hands of a publisher, and when the book got fantastic reviews in the New York Times, some publishers who heard what I had to say called me up and asked if I would be interested in writing books about African Americans." Since then, Haskins has authored more than 100 books on African Americans, as well as other subjects. He has authored books with famous black legends such as Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali and Stevie Wonder, but he has also written about those who are, what he calls, "undeservedly obscure," such as jazz legend Lionel Hampton.

James HaskinsIn one of his more recent books, One Nation Under a Groove: Rap Music and Its Roots, Haskins traces the history of rap music from its roots in West Africa hundreds of years ago to its booming popularity today in the US. Published by Hyperion Books in the children's series "Jump at the Sun," the book's fun and easy-to-read format is geared towards a teenage audience. Haskins uses library research, television and magazine interviews and his own experiences of meeting rap stars like Sean "Puff Daddy/P. Diddy" Combs to bring rap's history to life. He explores the early days of hip-hop when the Sugarhill Gang became the first to rap their way into the mainstream with "Rapper's Delight" through the genre's transition into one of the most popular forms of music today.

Covering topics such as women in rap, white rappers and the glamorous life today's rap stars enjoy, Haskins takes a sociologist's approach by exploring the genre as a cultural phenomenon. "I don't really make a distinction between classical music and rap," he says. "They are just different ways of expression. I don't make a distinction between Louis Armstrong and Count Basie and Mozart and Beethoven because they are all just as accomplished in their area of expression as the other."

Haskins admits he listens to classical music more often than rap and explains that his interest in the art form lies in its influence on American culture. He says he is often asked why he writes so many books about black musicians. "It is not part of my cultural experience to write about opera in Europe," he says. "Jazz, blues and gospel are part of my African-American heritage. It comes out of our experiences and so does reggae and rap."

Haskins teaches courses on children's and adolescent literature, biography writing, racism, classism and sexism. He came to UF in 1977.

—Buffy Lockette

Picking Wedlock: Women and the Courtship Novel in Spain

Picking Wedlock: Women and the Courtship Novel in Spainby Shifra Armon, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
(Rowman & Littlefield, 2002)
Available through Amazon

In eras when women's roles were heavily circumscribed, fictions about courtship and wedlock granted women writers an unassailable framework through which they contested orthodox beliefs about their place in society. In Picking Wedlock, Shifra Armon illuminates the remarkable convergence of three women novelists of Spain's Golden Age: Maria de Zayas, Mariana de Carvahal and Leonor de Meneses. Armon considers these extraordinary writers together for the first time, appraising them in relationship to the historical and literary nexus that gave impetus to the publication of their work. Concerned more with theorizing patterns of commonality among texts written by women than with recuperating the individual texts, Picking Wedlock is fascinating literary history on the cutting edge of contemporary feminist literary scholarship.


Walk Through Combinatorics: An Introduction to Enumeration and Graph Theory

Walk Through Combinatorics: An Introduction to Enumeration and Graph Theoryby Miklós Bóna, Department of Mathematics
(World Scientific, 2002)
Available through Amazon

This is a textbook for an introductory combinatorics course that can take up one or two semesters. It goes without saying that the text covers the classic areas, such as combinatorial choice problems and graph theory. What is unusual, for an undergraduate textbook, is that the author has included a number of more elaborate concepts, such as Ramsey theory, the probabilistic method and—probably the first of its kind—pattern avoidance. As the goal of the book is to encourage students to learn more combinatorics, every effort has been made to provide them with a not only useful, but also enjoyable and engaging reading.


Art of Arms: Studies of Aggression and Dominance in Medieval German Court Poetry

Art of Arms: Studies of Aggression and Dominance in Medieval German Court Poetryby Will Hasty, Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies
(Universitütsverlag C. Winter, 2002)
Available through Monatshefte

These studies of narrative and lyric court poetry composed in the German High Middle Ages—including the love lyrics, courtly romances, and heroic epics such as the Nibelungenlied—examine ways in which courtliness is involved in military and religious forms of aggression and dominance, situating the poetry in a time when, as the historian Benjamin Arnold has put it, "the German aristocratic mentality took for granted violence on a considerable scale." In these studies, "courtliness" shows itself to be a manner of managing and employing aggression in the interests of dominance, rather than as a mode of interaction that is opposed to or beyond aggression—as which it has been understood in much of the scholarship dealing with German court poetry.


The University of Chicago Spanish Dictionary: Spanish-English, English-Spanish

The University of Chicago Spanish Dictionary: Spanish-English, English-Spanishedited by David Pharies, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
(University of Chicago Press, 2002)
Available through Amazon

The University of Chicago Spanish Dictionary has been compiled for the general use of the American English-speaking learner of Spanish and the Spanish-speaking learner of American English. With this purpose in mind, the editors of the fifth edition—the newest since 1987—have introduced a number of significant improvements. One of the most important changes is the addition of many new words to bring the dictionary up to date with the latest technical advancements and cultural changes. New words include anorexia, clone, HIV, CD, microwave, chat room, on-line, bungee jumping, sexual harassment and ditsy. This dictionary is ideal for home, school and office use, and more than 10 million copies have already been sold.

—Book Preface

Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Agricultural Production Systems

Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Agricultural Production Systemsedited by Jane Southworth, Department of Geography and LUECI, with J.C. Randolph, Rebecca A. Pfeifer and Otto C. Doering, III
(Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002)
Available through ARS

Evidence shows that global climate change is occurring. Research and debate continue on the role of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in influencing climate change. Many sectors are or will be influenced by changing climate and climate variability, including increasing global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and increased frequency of unusual weather events. Agriculture and the world's supply of food and fiber are particularly vulnerable to such climate change. This book provides an integrated assessment of global climate change's impact on agriculture at the farm level, in the context of farm level adaptation decisions. Discussed are guidelines and useful analytical options for input suppliers, agricultural researchers, and agricultural producers to enable risk averting strategies and adaptations as global climate change plays out.


The Politics of Cultural Differences: Social Change and Voter Mobilization Strategies in the Post-New Deal Period

The Politics of Cultural Differences: Social Change and Voter Mobilization Strategies in the Post-New Deal Periodby Kenneth Wald, Department of Political Science and Center for Jewish Studies, with David C. Leege, Brian S. Krueger and Paul D. Mueller
(Princeton University Press, 2002)
Available through Amazon

How did Republicans manage to hold the White House through much of the past half century even as the Democratic Party held the hearts of most American voters? This groundbreaking study argues that they did so by doing what Democrats have also excelled at—triggering psychological mechanisms that deepen cultural divisions in the other party's coalition, thereby leading many of its voters either to choose the opposing ticket or to stay home. This is the first book to develop and carefully test a general theory of cultural politics in the US, one that offers a compelling new perspective on America's changing political order and political conflict in the post-New Deal period, 1960-1996. A theory of campaign strategies is formulated that emphasizes cultural conflict regarding patriotism, race, gender, and religion.


Buffy Lockett

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