Books in Arts

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New books in 2023

A Black woman shown from behind in a dancer's leotard with her arms raised in the air partway through a dance step

Performing Female Blackness, by Naila Keleta-Mae, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2023.

Performing Female Blackness examines race, gender, and nation in Black life using critical race, feminist and performance studies methodologies.

This book examines what private and public performances of female blackness reveal about race, gender, and nation and considers how the land widely known as Canada shapes these performances. By exploring Black expressive culture in familial, literary, and performance settings, Naila Keleta-Mae theorizes that “perpetual performance” forces people who are read as female and Black to always be figuratively on stage regardless of cultural, political, or historical contexts. Written in poetry, prose, and journal form and drawing from the author’s own life and artistic works, Performing Female Blackness is ideal not only for scholars, educators, and students of the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts but also for artists and the general public too.

Book cover featuring rows of repeated humanoid robotic figures

Cybernetic Aesthetics: Modernist Networks of Information and Data, by Heather Love, Cambridge University Press, 2023.

Cybernetic Aesthetics draws from cybernetics theory and terminology to interpret the communication structures and reading strategies that modernist text cultivate. In doing so, Heather A. Love shows how cybernetic approaches to communication emerged long before World War II; they flourished in the literature of modernism's most innovative authors. This book engages a range of literary authors, including Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce, and cybernetics theorists, such as Norbert Wiener, Claude Shannon, Ross Ashby, Silvan Tomkins, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, and Mary Catherine Bateson. Through comparative analysis, Love uncovers cybernetics' relevance to modernism and articulates modernism's role in shaping the cultural conditions that produced not merely technological cybernetics, but also the more diffuse notion of cybernetic thinking that still exerts its influence today.


Book cover with an illustraton made up of intersecting symbols used to denote male and female gender. They form an x in the middle - the symbol for the X-Men

The Claremont Run: Subverting Gender in the X-Men, by J. Andrew Deman, University of Texas Press, 2023.

By the time Chris Claremont’s run as author of Uncanny X-Men ended in 1991, he had changed comic books forever. During his sixteen years writing the series, Claremont revitalized a franchise on the verge of collapse, shaping the X-Men who appear in today’s Hollywood blockbusters. But, more than that, he told a new kind of story, using his growing platform to articulate transgressive ideas about gender nonconformity, toxic masculinity, and female empowerment. J. Andrew Deman’s investigation pairs close reading and quantitative analysis to examine gender representation, content, characters, and story structure. The Claremont Run compares several hundred issues of Uncanny X-Men with a thousand other Marvel comics to provide a comprehensive account of Claremont’s sophisticated and progressive gender politics. Claremont’s X-Men upended gender norms: where female characters historically served as mere eye candy, Claremont’s had leading roles and complex, evolving personalities. Perhaps more surprisingly, his male superheroes defied and complicated standards of masculinity. Groundbreaking in their time, Claremont’s comics challenged readers to see the real world differently and transformed pop culture in the process.

Book cover featuing two images of ancient coins with elephants on them

Seleukid Ideology – Creation, Reception and Response, edited by Altay Coskun and Richard Wenghofer, Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2023.

Seleukid Perspectives explore the largest successor kingdom to Alexander the Great’s empire. Seleukid kings established their power on the battlefield but did not rely on coercion alone. They constructed an ideal of kingship to render their authority morally and religiously acceptable. For this, they considered the traditions and sensitivities of their soldiers, subjects, and neighbours, while facing the pretensions of their rivals. What was beneficial or tolerable varied dramatically from one polity to the next. This book examines local influence on and reactions to Seleukid claims by focusing on rituals, discourse, and creative moments in which ideological themes were shaped. Seleukos I (320–281 BCE) closely engaged with the imagery of Alexander and Macedonian rivals, borrowed from Near Eastern traditions, and courted sanctuaries of Apollo. Case studies for his descendants are drawn from Anatolia, Syria, Judaea, Babylonia, and Persia. Praise of the dynasty was more than flattery but part of a process in which subjects actively contributed to perpetuating, modifying, or undermining the royal image. The volume encourages new debates on the complexity and efficacy of Seleukid Ideology.

Book title and authoer printed on a background that is an abstract painting of thick lined of yellows, reds and greens

Radically Civil: Saving Democracy one Conversation at a time, by Robert Danisch and William Keith, Taylor & Francis Group, 2023.

If you feel like the world has gone to hell in a handbasket, you’re not alone. If you often feel there’s nothing you can do about it, you’re also not alone. Along with this increasing anger, fear, and frustration, much confusion still prevails on the appropriate communication practices for responding to difficult situations and improving our lives. Communication experts Robert Danisch and William Keith explain why and how we can practice radical civility in this practical guide to everyday “political” communication.

Illustration of an older man sitting at a writing desk with a little girl holding up her doll to him. Both are wearing 1920s style clothing

Rationality Is ... The Essence of Literary Theory, by Norm Klassen, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2023.

A culturally influential sub-discipline within literary studies, literary theory has developed in parallel form in other arts and social science disciplines, so that one might refer to "cultural theory" or "social theory" as well, or even just to "theory." It's as familiar as the word "postmodern" and as tricky as "deconstruction." What is it about? What is at stake?

Theory is about rationality. This book's title invites two different interpretations of what it might mean to say so. For many, the essence of literary theory is the unmasking and redescription of rationality in other terms. Put ironically, rationality is male; rationality is white; rationality is repression.

This book's title, however, can also be read in a second way. One can affirm rationality as integral to human flourishing, including the processes of producing, analyzing, and enjoying literature, art, and culture.

This book provides readers with a clear overview of theory's development and the abiding presence of its concern with the status of rationality across its forms.

Close up of an open door looking down a long hallway in an historic English country home

Politics and the English Country House, 1688–1800, edited by Joan Coutu, Jon Stobart and Peter Nelson Lindfield, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2023.

Politics has always been at the heart of the English country house, in its design and construction, as well as in the activities and experiences of those who lived in and visited these places. As Britain moved from an agrarian to an imperial economy over the course of the eighteenth century, the home mirrored the social change experienced in the public sphere.

Considering lived, spatial, and social experience, this book offers a new perspective on the complexity of political meaning embedded in the eighteenth-century country house - and on ourselves as active recipients and interpreters of its various narratives, more than two centuries later.

Book cover featuring the title and author name on a close up of clouds in bright colours at sunset

The Christian Countercult Movement, by Douglas E. Cowan, Cambridge University Press, 2023.

Many seemingly strange questions on yoga, salvation, religious pluralism, and so forth have been actively debated among members of a small but influential group of evangelical apologists known as the Christian countercult movement. This Element explores the history of this movement from its origins in the anti-heresy writings of the early church to its modern development as a reaction to religious pluralism in North America. It contrasts the apologetic Christian countercult movement with its secular anticult counterpart and explains how faith-based opposition both to new religious movements and to non-Christian religions will only deepen as religious pluralism increases. It provides a concise understanding of the two principal goals of Christian countercult apologetics: support for the evangelization of non-Christian believers and maintenance for the perceived superiority of the evangelical Christian worldview.

Book cover featuring medieval stained glass depiction of Adam and Eve before and after being expelled from the Garden of Eden

Understanding Paul: The Existential Perspective, by Peter Frick, Mohr Siebeck, 2023

Peter Frick argues hermeneutically that the key issue to which the apostle Paul correlates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the power of sin. Understood in the tradition of Heidegger, sin (singular) is an ontological-existential category and distinct from sins (plural). For the death of Jesus to be effective in overcoming the death sentence of the power of sin, salvation is established strictly in the resurrection of Jesus. The correlation between plight and solution lies on the ontological level. Just as sin is an ontological structure unto death, so the resurrection provides a new ontological structure towards life. In the resurrection, death itself died. If so, an ontological foundation of salvation raises the question of the meaning of Jesus' life, suffering, and violent death. The questions discussed in the second part of the book include the significance of Christ/Messiah vis-à-vis sin, sins, and Torah, how faith is related to salvation, how a Christian ethic must be conceived on the basis of an ontological understanding of sin, and what life in view of a new creation might look like. These questions will be examined from an existential perspective in view of our contemporary existence.

Cover illustration featuring a silohuette of an ocean liner being approached by a series of row boats with different countries' flags

The Contested World Economy: The Deep and Global Roots of International Political Economy, by Eric Helleiner, Cambridge University Press, 2023.

The rapid growth of the field of international political economy since the 1970s has revived an older tradition of thought from the pre-1945 era. The Contested World Economy provides the first book-length analysis of these deep intellectual roots of the field, revealing how earlier debates about the world economy were more global and wide-ranging than usually recognized. Helleiner shows how pre-1945 pioneers of international political economy included thinkers from all parts of the world rather than just those from Europe and the United States featured in most textbooks. Their discussions also went beyond the much-studied debate between economic liberals, neomercantilists, and Marxists, and addressed wider topics, including many with contemporary relevance, such as environmental degradation, gender inequality, racial discrimination, religious worldviews, civilizational values, national self-sufficiency, and varieties of economic regionalism. This fascinating history of ideas sheds new light on current debates and the need for a global understanding of their antecedents.

Book cover featuring  a black and white archival photo image of a man in a suit pointing to page from a newspaper that completely covers the wall behind him.

Staged News: The Federal Theatre Project's Living Newspapers in New York, by Jordana Cox, University of Massachusetts Press, 2023.

In 1935, a group of journalists and theater artists embarked on an unusual collaboration. With funds from the Federal Theatre Project (FTP), a Depression-era employment initiative established by President Roosevelt's New Deal, they set out to produce news for the theatrical stage. Over the next four years, the New York–based team created six productions, known as the Living Newspapers covering a variety of public issues that included affordable housing, the plight of Dust Bowl farmers, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and labor law.

Staged News interprets the Living Newspaper's process and repertoire amid journalists' changing conceptions of their profession. Jordana Cox spotlights marginalized “newsmakers," particularly Black artists, who challenged the parameters of public knowledge and assumptions surrounding newsworthiness. This timely analysis uncovers how a vital theatrical form sprouted from a changing news landscape and reimagined what journalism could do for people seeking democratic change.

Book cover featuring a historical representation of a Black man in Arab warrier garb charing off to battle on a decorated, black steed

Africanism: Blacks in the Medieval Arab Imaginary, by Nader Kadhem, translated by Amir Al-Azraki, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2023.

Anti-blackness has until recently been a taboo topic within Arab society. This began to change when Nader Kadhem, a prominent Arab and Muslim thinker, published the first in-depth investigation of anti-black racism in the Arab world in 2004.

Kadhem explores the narratives of Africanism in the Arab imaginary from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century to show how racism toward black people is ingrained in the Arab world, offering a comprehensive account of the representations of blackness and black people in Arab cultural narratives - including the Quran, the hadith, and Arabic literature, geography, and history. The book examines the pejorative image of black people in Arab cultural discourse through three perspectives: the controversial anthropological concept that culture defines what it means to be human; the biblical narrative of Noah cursing his son Ham’s descendants - understood to be darker-skinned - with servitude; and Greco-Roman physiognomy, philosophy, medicine, and geography.


Silent partners book cover featuing billowing black clouds of smoke from an explosion

Silent Partners: The Origins and Influence of Canada’s Military-Industrial Complex, edited by Alex Souchen and Matthew S. Wiseman, UBC Press, 2023.

During the Cold War, Canada’s military, industrial, and political partnerships developed in silent ways, behind the scenes and without much public scrutiny. Silent Partners explores this complicated history of leveraging military and defence expenditures to fund domestic industries, bolster employment, and support science and technology. Military and defence spending have affected Canada in myriad ways and in uneven patterns of prosperity and decline. The contributions in this volume explore the environmental impact of military activities and munitions production, the ethical issues of human experimentation and military testing, and the economic and political implications of procurement and arms exports. Using a vast array of archival sources – some only recently declassified or discovered – Silent Partners is an illuminating examination of Canada’s military-industrial complex from a historical perspective. This book will appeal to military and Canadian historians, defence analysts, and political scientists interested in Canadian military affairs and defence procurement.

Book cover featuring a grave marker laid flat on the ground and half covered with grass and weeds

Sacraments for the Unfit, by Sarah Tolmie, Aqueduct Press, 2023

The isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic brought out the ritualist in many of us. In this collection of contemporary weird short fiction, a variety of different persons and beings try to fill up their days in varying states of isolation and mystery, real or imaginary. An angel outlives the Apparat that used to employ him; a deity complains about no longer feeling seen; a museum curator living alone begins to inexplicably alter; a medievalist suffering from vision loss gets into a strange relationship with the ghost of the codicologist M. R. James; enigmatic objects begin to work themselves out of the ground by the grave of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, prompting scholarly speculation. Sacraments For the Unfit is a series of vignettes about the transformations that can happen while staying in place.

Book cover depicting a group of people huddled around an open fire, over which oen person is cooking a meal.

Lived Refuge: Gratitude, Resentment, Resilience, by Vinh Nguyen, University of California Press, 2023

In a world increasingly shaped by displacement and migration, refuge is both a coveted right and an elusive promise for millions. Focusing on Southeast Asian diasporas in the wake of the Vietnam War, Nguyen examines three affective experiences—gratitude, resentment, and resilience—to reveal the actively lived dimensions of refuge. Through multifaceted analyses of literary and cultural productions, Nguyen argues that the meaning of refuge emerges from how displaced people negotiate the kinds of safety and protection that are offered to (and withheld from) them. In so doing, he lays the framework for an original and compelling understanding of contemporary refugee subjectivity.


Book cover featuring a collage of sketches of birds

Nestwork: New Material Rhetorics for Precarious Species, by Jennifer Clary-Lemon, Penn State University Press, 2023

As more and more species fall under the threat of extinction, humans are not only taking action to protect critical habitats but are also engaging more directly with species to help mitigate their decline. In this innovative ethnographic study, rhetorician Jennifer Clary-Lemon examines human-nonhuman animal interactions, identifying forms of communication between species and within their material world. Looking in particular at nonhuman species that depend on human development for their habitat, Clary-Lemon examines the cases of the barn swallow, chimney swift, and bobolink. She studies their habitats along with the unique mitigation efforts taken by humans to maintain those habitats, including building “barn swallow gazebos” and artificial chimneys and altering farming practices to allow for nesting and breeding. What she reveals are fascinating forms of rhetoric not expressed through language but circulating between species and materials objects.

When You Were New, by Jennifer Harris, Illustrated by Lenny Wen, Harper Collins, 2023

This picture book celebrates the joys of early childhood and all the first-time experiences that are exciting for parents and children, including beach days, befriending the family dog, story time on the couch, and so much more!The magic of being new is experiencing the world for the first time, learning that cuddles smell different at the beach—like coconut, salt, and sand—or realizing it’s hard to pick raspberries without eating at least one. Get swept up in the magic and wonder of seeing the world through the eyes of a child, and treasure the perfect, golden moments you share together.

Migration, culture and identity: Making Home Away, edited by Yasmine Shamma, Suzan Ilcan, Vicki Squire, and Helen Underhill, Springer, 2023

This book is about homemaking in situations of migration and displacement. It explores how homes are made, remade, lost, revived, expanded and contracted through experiences of migration, to ask what it means to make a home away from home. We draw together a wide range of perspectives from across multiple disciplines and contexts, which explore how old homes, lost homes, and new homes connect and disconnect through processes of homemaking. The volume asks: how do spaces of resettlement or rehoming reflect both the continuation of old homes and distinct new experiences?

Based on collaborations with migrants, refugees, practitioners and artists, this book centres the lived experiences, testimonies, and negotiations of those who are displaced. The volume generates appreciation of the tensions that emerge in contexts of migration and displacement, as well as of the ways in which racial categories and colonial legacies continue to shape fields of lived experience.

The Wicked Problems of Police Reform in Canada, by Laura Huey, Lorna Ferguson, & Jennifer L. Schulenberg, Routledge, 2023.

This book looks at police reform in Canada, arguing that no significant and sustainable reform can occur until steps are taken to answer the question of 'What exactly do we want police to do?' Adding challenge to setting boundaries on expectations for the police is grappling with the complex social problems we ask them to resolve. In public policy language, these are ‘wicked problems’ – social or cultural issues frequently seen as intractable.

Pooling data from over 20 years of research (2000– 2021) ranging from in-depth interviews, surveys, and field observations to document analysis and systematic social observation, generates a national-level picture of changes in the policing operational environment. We focus on four wicked problems (mental health, substance misuse, homelessness, missing persons) with causes and potential preventative treatments that lie primarily outside the criminal justice system and yet continue to be treated as 'policing problems.'

Stories of Feminist Protest and Resistance: Digital Performative Assemblies, edited by Brianna I. Wiens, Michelle MacArthur, Shana MacDonald and Milena Radzikowska, Rowman & Littlefield, 2023.

Stories of Feminist Protest and Resistance: Digital Performative Assemblies foregrounds the importance of storytelling for coalition building, solidarity, and performative assembly. Bringing together scholars and activists from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, this book offers creative explorations, analyses, personal stories, and case studies of digital feminist activism that speak directly to the many ways that feminist communities assemble for the purposes of protest and resistance. Through various forms of feminist media mobilizations, from hashtag feminism and platform activism to personal blogs and meme accounts, these chapters explore how digital feminists use the long-standing tactics of storytelling to counter the dominant narratives of white supremacy, colonialism, heteropatriarchy, and the intersecting oppressions that accompany such structures, both online and offline. By sharing stories of intersectional feminist assembly for collective justice, this book contributes to larger conversations about establishing alternative ways of seeing and being in the world, inviting others to assemble with us.

Beyoncé and Beyond: 2013–2016, by Naila Keleta-Mae, Routledge, 2023.

The book explores how the careful choreography of Beyoncé’s image, voice and public persona, coupled with her intelligent use of audio and visual mediums, makes her one of the most influential entertainers of the 21st century. Keleta-Mae proposes that 2013 to 2016 was a pivotal period in Beyoncé’s career and looks at three artistic projects that she created during that time: her self-titled debut visual album Beyoncé, her video and live performance of "Formation," and her second visual album Lemonade. By examining the progression of Beyoncé’s career during this period, and the impact it had culturally and socially, the author demonstrates how Beyoncé brought 21st century feminism into the mainstream through layered explorations of female blackness.

Ideal for scholars and students of performance in the social and political spheres, and of course fans of Beyoncé herself, this book examines the mega superstar’s transition into a creator of art that engages with Black culture and Black life with increased thoughtfulness.

Cover of Book

The Routledge Handbook of Refugee Narratives, edited By Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi, Vinh Nguyen, Routledge, 2023.

This Handbook presents a transnational and interdisciplinary study of refugee narratives, broadly defined. Interrogating who can be considered a refugee and what constitutes a narrative, the thirty-eight chapters included in this collection encompass a range of forcibly displaced subjects, a mix of geographical and historical contexts, and a variety of storytelling modalities. Analyzing novels, poetry, memoirs, comics, films, photography, music, social media, data, graffiti, letters, reports, eco-design, video games, archival remnants, and ethnography, the individual chapters counter dominant representations of refugees as voiceless victims. Addressing key characteristics and thematics of refugee narratives, this Handbook examines how refugee cultural productions are shaped by and in turn shape socio-political landscapes. It will be of interest to researchers, teachers, students, and practitioners committed to engaging refugee narratives in the contemporary moment.