Newspapers and magazines are struggling in the 21st century. Twenty years after the launch of the World Wide Web, many influential publications of the previous century have folded. Readers have many more choices and advertisers have found new channels to reach them. Advertising revenues from traditional print publications have plunged.
For her new book Remake, Remodel: Women’s Magazines in the Digital Age, Brooke Erin Duffy interviewed over thirty industry professionals, engaged in participant observation, and paid close attention to the industry trade literature. She focused her attention on the production side, attempting to understand how the digital environment is influencing professional and organizational identities.
The routines developed around producing a glossy monthly magazine have shifted towards the urgent, ephemeral 24/7 digital cycle. The magazine is no longer an object but a brand. In addition to the traditional print magazine and its online surrogates, some magazines now have YouTube channels, TV shows, and retail products. Journalistic writing is increasingly being sidelined for prose that is more amenable to search engine optimization and advertisers. Whither the magazine from here?
I spoke to Brooke Erin Duffy about her new book Remake, Remodel: Women’s Magazines in the Digital Age on July 9, 2014.
Here are the interviews with this year’s two winners of the Library Prize for Undergraduate Research. Take some time to listen to these two accomplished undergraduate scholars discussing their research. Congratulations to both of them!
Cassandra Emmons, “Ambiguous Attacks on Democracy in Europe and the Americas: What Can Intergovernmental Organizations Do?”
Political Science 4891: Senior Honors Scholar Project, Fall 2013
Faculty Sponsors: Andrew Pollack and Hillel Soifer
Evan Hoskins, “Pigs in the Promised Land: The Russian Great Aliyah and non-kosher meat as a secular symbol against Orthodox Rabbinical hegemony in Israel”
History 4997: Honors History Seminar, Spring 2014
Faculty Sponsors: Beth Bailey and Elliot Ratzmann
In 2010, Tom McAllister published a memoir entitled Bury Me in My Jersey: A Memoir of My Father, Football, and Philly(Villard Books) in which he describes the critical role that the Philadelphia Eagles football team played in the shaping of his young years. Like many who spend Sundays watching football, this ritual helped him to cement bonds with family and friends. Unlike many, it become an obsession that, as I was to learn, took many years and one book to untangle. The fateful 39th Super Bowl plays a central role in his narrative, an event that few Philadelphia sports fans will ever forget. (It was February 6, 2005, and we were finally going to win what had been denied to us for so long…) In addition to leading us through his career as an Eagles fan, Tom also reflects on the role that his father played in his life, sometimes but not always tied to their mutual devotion to the Eagles. Bury Me in My Jersey is full of very funny, unlikely, and sometimes disturbing stories, as well as thoughtful meditations on the search for identity.
Maia Cucchiara’s new book, Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities: Who Wins and Who Loses When Schools Become Urban Amenities (University of Chicago Press, 2013), is a very timely intervention into the current debate about the troubled Philadelphia public school system. Most of the research for this book took place between 2004 and 2007 as part of her doctoral dissertation during the Philadelphia Center City Schools Initiative (CCSI), which sought to market and promote Center City public schools in an effort to retain middle and upper middle class Center City families from fleeing to the suburbs in search of better schools. She shines a light on this initiative by focusing on one school and one neighborhood, which she pseudonymously names “Grant Elementary School” and “Cobble Square”. In the course of her research, she interviewed parents, administrators, teachers, and local civic and business leaders, as well as participated in many events at Grant Elementary School.
One of the most important and illuminating aspects of Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities is the way it highlights the tensions between an urban area’s economic and civic space as citizens are increasingly seen as customers and consumers. What rights and duties do we have as citizens and how are those rights and duties constrained or enhanced when they are interpreted from a narrow economic perspective? On the one hand, retaining Center City families grows the tax base and potentially benefits all Philadelphia schools, given that schools are financed primarily through real estate taxes. On the other hand, how does one justify directing additional resources to Center City schools at a time when there are so many disadvantaged schools in the outlying neighborhoods? The tensions that Maia Cucchiara investigates in Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities are still very much with us today and make this book a “must read” for anyone interested in Philadelphia public schools and the future of public education.
I spoke with Maia Cucchiara on September 19, 2013.
The deuteronomistic (or deuteronomic) history is a scholarly theory about the way in which Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel (1 and 2), and Kings (1 and 2) were redacted into a narrative describing the rise of Israel from a loose grouping of tribes and cults into a monarchy. The biblical figure Samuel plays a significant role in this story, from his early priestly training in the temple of Shiloh to his later, profound influence on the kingships of Saul and David. Temple University religion professor Mark Leuchter has recently published a work on Samuel entitled Samuel and the Shaping of Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2013), in which he examines Samuel’s “liminality” in his different roles as priest, prophet, and judge. In the course of discussing his own theories and perspectives on Samuel, Professor Leuchter also explains the deuteronomistic history, redaction, liminality, and the chronology of ancient Israel.
Andrew Smith is a prominent food writer with over a dozen books to his name, including the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (Oxford University Press, 2004) and The Tomato in American History: early history, culture, and cookery (University of Illinois Press, 2001). On March 26, 2013, he visited Paley Library to give a lecture on his most recent book, Drinking History: 15 Turning Points in the Making of American Beverages (Columbia University Press, 2013). Before he spoke, he was kind enough to sit down with me to record an interview about yet a different book, published in 2012 by the University of California Press, entitled American Tuna: the rise and fall of an improbable food. I had interviewed Professor Daniel Levine in 2010 about tuna in the ancient Mediterranean world (Talking Tuna), and I was interested in learning about the history of tuna on this side of the Atlantic. Andrew Smith was able to fill me in on the fascinating history of American tuna’s rise and fall, which includes sport fishermen, conservationists, Asian and European immigrants, grocers, advertisers, world wars, dolphins, and methylmercury. It’s a sweeping history of this “chicken of the sea”.
On March 18, 2013 I spoke with three Temple classics majors about the archaeological digs they participated in during the summer of 2012. Andy Pollack was at the Temple University field school in Artena, Italy, working on a Roman villa; Eamonn Connor was a volunteer at the ancient agora near the Acropolis in Athens, Greece; and Samantha Davidson attended the Davidson College field school at a rural site in Atheneiou, Cypus. We met in my office at 8 AM. With coffee in hand, we had an interesting conversation about the similarities and differences between the three sites. We talked about artifacts, preservation, tools, the daily routine, and the surrounding geography and history of each site.
Benjamin Zeller is a scholar of religion in America, new religious movements, and religion and science. In his book Prophets and Protons: New Religious Movements and Science in Late Twentieth-Century America (New York University Press, 2010) he looks at how the Unification Church (“Moonies”), the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (“Hare Krishnas”), and the group that came to be known as “Heaven’s Gate” thought about and related to science. He found that science had become such a dominant intellectual force that each of these religions felt compelled to appeal to it for legitimation. In addition to perspectives on science, this interview provides an encapsulated history of each movement and the major figures involved in their founding.
Of special note, Benjamin Zeller gives a big shoutout to librarians at the end of the interview, expressing his great thanks for the work that we do. Thanks Ben!
Benjamin Zeller is an assistant professor of religion at Lake Forest College in Illinois. I spoke with him via Skype on March 11, 2013.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick is the Director of Scholarly Communications at the Modern Language Association and a visiting faculty member in the English Department at New York University. She has published two books, The Anxiety of Influence: The American Novel in the Age of Television (Vanderbilt University Press, 2006), which analyzed the anxiety and vested interests surrounding the purported demise of literature, and Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy (New York University Press, 2011), a fascinating and incisive look at the future of publishing and scholarship in the academy. She has a blog, also titled Planned Obsolescence, and she is a co-founder of MediaCommons, “a community network for scholars, students, and practitioners in media studies, promoting exploration of new forms of publishing…”
Kathleen Fitzpatrick gave a lecture at the Center for the Humanities at Temple (CHAT) on March 7, 2013, entitled “The Humanities in and for the Digital Age.” Before her talk, she kindly stopped by my office to discuss her work in scholarly communication and the digital humanities.
Temple University history professor Andrew Isenberg came by my office in February to discuss his new book, Wyatt Earp: A Vigilante Life (Hill & Wang: 2013), due out in June. His book and this interview are a fascinating look at the life of a man who lived on both sides of the law and reinvented himself time and time again as he moved from one place to another throughout the West. Having seen several different Hollywood versions of Wyatt Earp, I was interested in learning about the real man and how his legend was born. Untangling myth and legend from historical fact, Western historian Andrew Isenberg traces the journey of Wyatt Earp, from his beginnings in the small-town Midwest, to the saloons, jails, and brothels in cow towns and mining towns of Kansas, Texas, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, and California, to his final years in Los Angeles.