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Skidmore College

Faculty authors

December 21, 2012

Faculty authors


Skidmore’s scholars drew upon topics as varied as 19th-century social clubs for men, the Italian colonial experience in China, and the European Union’s role in international security, among other subjects, for book-length treatments in 2012. Here is a round up of recent books by faculty authors.

April Bernard, associate professor of English and director of the Skidmore Writing Center, is the author of Miss Fuller, a novel published in April by Steerforth, about "the most famous woman in America" whom no one knew. Miss Fuller is a historical novel that poses questions about how we see and treat the exceptional and dangerous agents of change among us. And it shows the price to be paid by any one person who strives to change the world for the better.

Washington Post Book World critic Carolyn See called the book "fascinating and touching." She added, "Reading Miss Fuller is like leafing through the family album and finding that great-aunt who ran away with, well, an Italian. Fuller is our rebellious streak, the part of us who gets in trouble, who puts her hand on a hot stove and gets soundly burned. I can't tell you how much I love this book — and think a little less of Hawthorne."

Barbara Black, professor of English, is the author of A Room of His Own: A Literary-Cultural Study of Victorian Clubland  (November 2012, Ohio University Press).

In 19th-century London, a clubbable man was a fortunate man, indeed. A Room of His Own sheds light on the mysterious ways of male associational culture as it examines such topics as fraternity, sophistication, nostalgia, social capital, celebrity, gossip, and male professionalism. London’s clubland—this all-important room of his own—comes to life as Black explores the literary representations of clubland and the important social and cultural work that this urban site enacts. Our present-day culture of connectivity owes much to 19th-century sociability and Victorian networks; clubland reveals to us our own enduring desire to belong, to construct imagined communities, and to affiliate with like-minded comrades.

Victor Cahn, professor of English, is the author of Sound Bites, a novel about politics and the media, published in July by Resource Publications.

The absurdities of contemporary politics and culture are lampooned in this unique and biting novel, composed entirely of media "sound bites." Here are the voices of our time: politicians, reporters, pundits, and voters, all clashing amid a senatorial campaign between a young conservative woman and a venerable liberal man. The result is a fast-paced satire filled with sharp dialogue and ironic surprises.

Roy H. Ginsberg, professor and chair, Department of Government, and Jean Monnet Chair in European Integration Studies, is co-author (with Susan E. Penksa) of The European Union in Global Security (2012, Palgrave Macmillan). Before the EU won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Ginsberg and Penksa wrote about the EU’s role in international security. The authors identify and explain the drivers of and brakes to EU foreign security action, offer methods of assessment to ascertain influence, and conclude that the union has become a niche international security provider that has in turn strengthened EU foreign policy.

Javier Solana, former Spanish foreign minister, former NATO secretary general, and first high representative of the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy, authored the book's foreword.

Shirley Smith, associate professor of Italian, is the author of Imperial Designs:  Italians in China, 1900-1947, released in early March by the Fairleigh Dickinson University Press Series in Italian Studies.

Imperial Designs is the first text in English to deal comprehensively with the subject of the Italian colonial experience in China in the 19th and 20th centuries. Recent scholarship on both the Liberal and Fascist Italian colonial enterprises centers on the Mediterranean and Northern Africa: expeditions, wars, ultimate occupation of territories, and their effect on Italy. Smith’s study looks at three Italian enclaves on the other side of the globe: Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai, presenting both a window into the Italian experience in the Far East and confirmation of imperial policy.

Steve Stern, professor of English, is the author The Book of Mischief (2012, Graywolf Press), a collection of new and selected stories.

The Book of Mischief showcases 25 years of outstanding work by a true master of the short story. Stern’s stories take us from the unlikely old Jewish quarter of the Pinch in Memphis to a turn-of-the-century immigrant community in New York; from the market towns of Eastern Europe to a down-at-the-heels Catskills resort. Weaving his particular brand of mischief from the wondrous and the macabre, Stern transforms us all through the power of his brilliant imagination. The book is among the "100 Notable Books of 2012" selected by The New York Times.

Jill D. Sweet, professor emerita of anthropology, is the author of Whiskers and Tales: Service Dogs, Family Pets, and Animal Shelters (The Troy Book Makers, 2012). The book is a collection of short essays that first appeared as columns on the Pet Page of Saratoga Today, the weekly newspaper available in the Saratoga Springs area.

The stories, written for all ages, are about service dogs, family pets, and animal shelters. Many are appropriate for parents to read aloud to their young children. Illustrations are animal portraits by local artist Mary Jane Kotsi. Proceeds from the sale of the book benefit local animal shelters.

Daniel Swift, assistant professor of English, has a new book, Shakespeare’s Common Prayers: The Book of Common Prayer and the Elizabethan Age, published in September by Oxford University Press.

Societies and entire nations draw their identities from certain founding documents, whether charters, declarations, or manifestos. The Book of Common Prayer figures as one of the most crucial in the history of the English-speaking peoples. First published in 1549 to make accessible the devotional language of the late Henry the VIII's new church, the prayer book was a work of monumental religious, political, and cultural importance. Within its rituals, prescriptions, proscriptions, and expressions were fought the religious wars of the age of Shakespeare. This diminutive book–continuously reformed and revised–was how that age defined itself.

In Shakespeare's Common Prayers, Swift makes dazzling and original use of this foundational text, employing it as an entry-point into the works of England's most celebrated writer.

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