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Spring 2001

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Books

16 Categories of Desire
The Kerry Way: The History of Kerry Group, 1972-2000
Midwifery and the Medicalization of Childbirth: Comparative Perspectives
The Color of Sex: Whiteness, Heterosexuality, and the Fictions of White Supremacy
Surviving the Winter: The Evolution of Quiltmaking in New Mexico
Darling Loraine: The Story of A. Louis Drucker, a Grateful Jewish Immigrant
Considering Louis: Mathematically Possible Poems


16 Categories of Desire

by Douglas Glover, Visiting Writer-in-Residence
Goose Lane, 2000

Ontario-born and -raised author Douglas Glover has lived in the U.S. for many years, but his work is still closely followed and admired in Canada. His latest book of stories is proof that Glover is “as Canadian as they come,” writes Philip Marchand in a full-page review in the Toronto Star. The “acidly comic quality of Glover’s imagination,” according to Marchand, “is a sort of revenge of the Canadian intelligence against feelings of helplessness and disappointment.” That dark vision, he asserts, creates the “wistful, clueless characters” that people these often-humorous stories of sexual confusion, obsession, and perversion. Admired as both a writer’s writer and writing teacher, Glover is author of three previous short story collections and three novels, including The Life and Times of Captain N. He has taught in the New York State Summer Writers Institute on campus since 1992.

The Kerry Way: The History of Kerry Group, 1972-2000

by James J. Kennelly, Assistant Professor of Management and Business
Oak Tree Press (Dublin), 2001

Called a “pulsing 442-page narrative” by one Irish book reviewer, The Kerry Way chronicles how a dilapidated local Irish creamery in tough land on the edge of Europe became a world leader in the food industry in a short twenty-eight years. It tells how one million Irish pounds invested by farmers in £1 shares with the Kerry Co-op in 1974 is today worth over £1 billion, and it gives present-day tallies: 15,000 people employed in eighteen countries spread over five continents and still growing. However, the reviewer emphasizes, “This is not a dry statistical analysis. Kennelly is a story teller. A kind of seanchai but boostered by business expertise and measurement techniques. Not the way one would expect an American professor to write. But there is a Kerry genetic factor. James Kennelly’s father emigrated in 1948 to the U.S. from a North Kerry farm.”

Kennelly started his research with an article in mind; he wanted to record the story of a company’s development from rural co-op to multinational player. But, he recalls, “It was a bigger story than I ever imagined. It’s a great story. It’s about tactics and strategy; the story of a people and a place, involving such characteristics as perseverance, confidence, and risk-taking, virtues we dismiss in this dot-com age.”

The author was present at the book’s launch at Kerry Group’s corporate headquarters in Tralee, County Kerry, in December. Speaking at the launch, Irish playwright John B. Keane called farmers “the most reliable friends your could ever have, whether at a football match or in a Ballybion pub which was being raided.” Keane referred to Kerry’s chairman Denis Brosnan, who at age 27 “like a field marshal drilled them [farmers] into shape and now you have one of the most powerful workforces that this country ever produced.”

Midwifery and the Medicalization of Childbirth: Comparative Perspectives

edited by Edwin van Teijlingen; George W. Lowis, Professor Emeritus of Sociology; Peter McCaffery; and Maureen Porter
Nova Science Publishers Inc., 1999

George Lowis, a member of the Skidmore sociology faculty from 1967 to 1992 and currently an adjunct professor of epidemiology at the University of Miami’s school of medicine, and his co-editors, all of whom are medical sociologists affiliated with Scotland’s University of Aberdeen, have selected over three dozen readings (some written by the editors) to introduce the sociological study of midwifery. Two major theses underlie the organization of the book: the conception of midwifery must be broadened to encompass a sociological perspective and, although there is a long-term worldwide trend toward the medicalization of childbirth and midwifery, this trend is slowly being reversed and requires analysis within a sociological framework.

Lowis and his co-editors define “the medicalization of childbirth” as the preference for a hospital delivery over a home delivery, the use of technology and clinical intervention in childbirth, and the determination of medical practitioners to confine the role played by midwives in pregnancy and childbirth, if any, to a purely subordinate one. While the readings in the book’s earlier chapters emphasize the historical trend toward the medicalization of childbirth, later chapters show that a process of cultural demedicalization appears to be taking place in the industrialized societies of North America and Western Europe where, for example, shifts in emphasis are occurring from illness to health and from therapeutic to preventative medicine.

The readings show how a focus on the social organization of individual societies accounts for the sheer diversity of practices at the time of childbirth and the degree of responsiveness to historically changing influences.

The Color of Sex: Whiteness, Heterosexuality, and the Fictions of White Supremacy

by Mason Stokes, Assistant Professor of English
Duke University Press, 2001

In The Color of Sex Mason Stokes examines American white-supremacist texts written and produced between 1852 and 1915—from literary romances to dime novels, from religious and scientific tracts, to films—and offers a new way of thinking about whiteness as a largely invisible racial category. The book emerged from Stokes’s interest in African-American literary and cultural history and from his research and teaching in the history of sexuality. An example of the new “whiteness studies” field that’s gaining tremendous momentum within academe, The Color of Sex seeks to destabilize the cultural authority of whiteness by exposing its anxieties and vulnerabilities.

Stokes acknowledges that this new attention to whiteness has its possible pitfalls, and says his book is an attempt to redirect the field at a crucial moment in its early history. As Stokes argues, too much work in whiteness studies actually ends up recentering rather than decentering whiteness in our cultural imagination—an indication of whiteness’s slippery ability to recover itself. To avoid this recentering, Stokes links his analysis of whiteness to an analysis of heterosexuality, which, like whiteness, is too often allowed a kind of free and invisible reign as “the natural.” By exploring the surprisingly ambivalent partnership of whiteness and heterosexuality, Stokes manages to keep whiteness productively off-center. As Stokes writes, “Looking at whiteness is like looking at the sun. The only way to see it is to refract our vision.”

Dana Nelson of the University of Kentucky has called The Color of Sex “a stunningly conceived, lucidly written, well-supported, nuanced, and absolutely compelling analysis of important literary materials.” As Nelson writes, “Stokes demonstrates with amplifying brilliance the operative interdependence of whiteness and normative heterosexuality.”

Surviving the Winter: The Evolution of Quiltmaking in New Mexico

by Dorothy Richards Zopf ’50
University of New Mexico Press, 2001

When lifelong quilter and high school art teacher Dorothy Zopf moved from Ohio to a village in New Mexico in 1981, she joined a group of quilters at La Iglesia de la Santisima Trinidad. For ten years Zopf and this group of bilingual women shared lunches, scraps of material, and stories (“I was nineteen,” related one woman, “when my grandma called me a lazy thing, gave me her bag of rags, and told me to get busy”).

Zopf began photographing and collecting quilts from small towns across the state and documenting their patterns and techniques. Her survey of Hispano and Anglo-American fiber arts materialized into talks given across the state and the compilation of this book.

Zopf tells how the women of New Mexico—with materials ranging from old serapes to worn clothing, flour sacks and tobacco bags, as well as commercial fabrics—used their frugality, ingenuity, and artistry to create utilitarian quilts that are also works of folk art. The quilts documented in Surviving the Winter range from “old style” quilts, characterized by vertical strips of random lengths and widths, to formal patterns such as Log Cabin and Wedding Ring, to experimental wall hangings. Sixty-seven of the quilts are depicted in full-page color plates.

Darling Loraine: The Story of A. Louis Drucker, a Grateful Jewish Immigrant

by Barbara Drucker Smith ’58
Louraine Publishing, 2000

Organized by Barbara Drucker Smith, Darling Loraine is a compilation of anecdotes, letters, poetry, and photography telling the story of her parents, Louis and Loraine Drucker. Louis, the founder of a realty company bearing his name, and his wife, Loraine, were prominent in Newport News, Va., community affairs. This tribute covers the span of Louis Drucker’s life, from 1898 to 1995, and provides a compelling look at local, national, and world events ranging from the growth of Newport News into a modern city to the Holocaust.

Smith traces her father’s beginnings as a Jewish immigrant who landed in New York City with fifty dollars in his pocket and settled in small-town USA. Loneliness, determination, adventure, love, optimism, defeat and triumph, and illness and health are all part of his story. One reviewer observed that Smith’s tribute “shows her passionate life commitment to the Jewish principle of tikkun olam—the obligation to be involved in healing and transforming the world. In learning about her father’s journey we glimpse Barbara’s spirituality which is rooted in Jewish tradition and is connected to the pain and joy of all human beings.”

Darling Loraine has been nominated in the nonfiction category for a Virginia Literary Award, given by the Virginia Center for the Book at the Library of Virginia in Richmond.

Considering Louis: Mathematically Possible Poems

by Elizabeth Elder ’67
Puddingstone Publishing, 2000

This small hardcover book of poems for children of any age is the first of its kind for journalist, artist, and former English teacher Elizabeth Elder. The collection contains eighteen short poems and two story poems of about twenty-five pages each featuring Louis and his animal friends.

Louis is a rabbit, and let’s get this straight at the outset: “Don’t call him Looey—/that isn’t his name;/and don’t give him sprouts,/if it’s all the same./This Louis is firm/ about certain desires,/like having a nap when his stuffing tires,/and having an ‘s’ on the end of his name./ And don’t give him sprouts,/if it’s all the same.”

Published in time for Christmas 2000, the book received a boost when one reviewer said it was “a lively and fun collection of Elizabeth Elder’s poetry for kids and would grace any family, school, or community library collection.” This charming book belongs next to Winnie-the-Pooh books on the shelf of children’s books you are saving for the next generation. Indeed, there are similarities. It’s a book grownups will enjoy reading to children and it’s not one with a watered-down vocabulary—take, for example, a poem titled “The Little Cottage: Assimilation, Accommodation, Adaptation.” Most pages have whimsical black-and-white line drawings by the author, bringing to mind E. H. Shepard’s “decorations” for the Pooh books. So grab yourself a second grader and settle in for a good read. —ACH

Alumni authors are urged to send copies of their books, publisher’s notes, or reviews, so that Scope can make note of their work in the “Books” column.

 


© 2001 Skidmore College