New and Noteworthy
Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction
Oxford University Press
James Stockdale, a US pilot shot down and imprisoned for much of the Vietnam War, found consolation in recalling the Stoic Handbook of the former slave Epictetus ( c. 55-135 AD). Others have sought inspiration in the Meditations of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. Yet while Stoicism remains influential, we often have a simplistic idea of its proponents’ beliefs. From the limited surviving evidence, however, it now seems clear that the original Stoics were as interested in logic and physics as in practical ethics. Brad Inwood’s “short introduction” offers an incisive overview of how Stoicism developed – and why it might still be relevant.
Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online
Today, suggests Crystal Abidin, we are living simultaneously in a Golden Age and a Dark Age of internet celebrity. While “an increasing number of young people are skillfully parlaying their internet fame into full-fledged viable careers” (and in some cases becoming millionaires), we also see the world’s most powerful politician “pushing out highly sensational and viral tweets” that attract far more attention than his presidential actions. Taking in everything from camgirls to “cashing in on catchphrases”, this book attempts to make sense of this confusing new world by exploring the qualities (from “exclusivity” to “everydayness”) that can generate internet fame, the links with traditional media and the ways some celebrities manage to become genuine “influencers”.
The Common Freedom of the People: John Lilburne and the English Revolution
Oxford University Press
One of the most compelling figures of his era, John Lilburne (1614-57) fell foul of both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell and was eventually accused of treason no less than four times. Yet he fought a number of crucial legal battles – for the right to remain silent, for the right to an open trial and for a written constitution – and has remained an inspiration to many ever since. This “political life”, the first for almost 60 years, takes us, as Michael Braddick puts it, into “the world of illegal print, street demonstrations, dawn raids, military campaigns, and the courtroom”, providing a vivid portrait of both the man and his age.
Artists and Their Books: Books and Their Artists
Marcia Reed and Glenn Phillips
Getty Research Institute
Artists associated with Cubism, Dadaism, Expressionism, Futurism and Surrealism all produced works using but also subverting the traditional form of the book. More recent conceptual artists have gone further and produced “books” so big one can walk into them, “books” whose “pages” consist of crushed Coca-Cola cans and books featuring photographs of fissures in the earth… Such artists’ books seldom receive much attention from art or book historians. One of the major collections is held by the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. This new account, tied to an exhibition, offers an excellent overview of a strange and stimulating medium.
Speaking Up: Understanding Language and Gender
In many parts of the world, argues Allyson Jule, “language remains a key tool of oppression used to ensure that (often powerless) women and sexual minorities do not share power equally with white heterosexual men… if we can make hidden assumptions about gender and language more explicit, then we can play a part in making this world a better place to live as human beings.” Her lively and accessible book considers compliments and consumer femininity, liberal feminism and “linguistic shitwork”, “slutshaming” and stereotyping to reveal the pernicious power of gendered language everywhere from advertising and technology to religion and relationships.