New books by SCU faculty and alumni
For dignity and life
In the past 25 years, HIV/AIDS has brought tragedy into the lives of millions of Africans. To better understand the attitudes and practices that have compounded the pandemic for women in particular—and to develop a response—the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians has put together a collection of essays that offer analysis and prescription. The first volume looks at factors that render African women particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. The second volume, Women, Religion and HIV/AIDS in Africa: Responding to Ethical and Theological Challenges (Cluster Publications, 2008, $25) is co-edited and introduced by Teresia Mbari Hinga, associate professor of religious studies at SCU. Among the topics scrutinized is the religio-cultural heritage of Africa, with a focus on the consequences of colonial missionary work as it relates to the stigma attached to HIV-positive women. Hinga contends that female theologians must ask hard questions regarding sexual oppression against women, even at the risk of being called heretics. She also argues that we need to “rediscover and reclaim the virtue of chastity…a virtue that allows us to express (not repress) our sexuality in morally viable ways.” The third volume in the series offers a call to action—with a reminder that confronting the challenges of HIV/AIDS in Africa is a matter of ethical and theological urgency. Born in Kenya, Hinga joined the SCU faculty in 2005 and teaches courses on women and religion, feminist theologies, African religions and society, and religion and contemporary moral issues.
Go, rebuild my house
In Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2008, $18.95), Santa Clara scholar Keith Douglass Warner, O.F.M., presents a spiritual guide for global sustainability. Drawing on lessons of the patron saint of ecology, St. Francis, and current environmental research, Warner and co-authors Ilia Delio and Pamela Wood aim to stir the green conscience. The ecotheological stance he stakes out is one that offers hope of renewal—lest a lack of care for creation continue to steer us toward the end of the world as we know it. Warner is a lecturer in religious studies, faculty director for the Xavier Residential Learning Community, and the faith, ethics, and vocation project director for the Environmental Studies Institute.
A hot writing tip
This year brought a pair of new offerings from Associate Professor of English Fred D. White: some practical writerly advice and an extended scholarly essay on Emily Dickinson studies. For the writer with blockage—or who’s just looking for the exercises to keep those writing muscles toned—there’s The Daily Writer: 366 Meditations to Cultivate a Productive and Meaningful Writing Life(Writer’s Digest Books, 2008, $17.99). Author assertiveness, dreams, memorabilia, and even magic make an appearance, with each calendar day serving up a unique writing trigger, a “further reflection,” and a “try this” exercise.Approaching Emily Dickinson: Critical Currents and Crosscurrents since1960 (Camden House, 2008, $75) looks at the critical reception of the poet’s work in recent years, including the critical tools that come courtesy of feminist studies, queer studies, deconstructionist theory, and artistic reception. The project was nearly four years in the making. White, whose writing and teaching interests encompass nonfiction, science and technology, and poetry, has taught at SCU since 1980.
Ours to unmake
Professor of Law David D. Friedmanacknowledges that the future is unknown. But there is one certainty, says this self-professed anarchist-anachronist-economist: The future will be nothing like the past. In Future Imperfect: Technology and Freedom in an Uncertain World (Cambridge University Press, 2008, $30), Friedman does not predict the future but assesses technological changes—encryption, mind drugs, and virtual reality—that will alter how we perceive reality and determine the survival or eradication of the human species. With artificial intelligence, biotech, and nanotech at our disposal, Friedman explicates (in the words of the San Francisco Chronicle) a “tantalizing range of either/or futures—greater personal privacy and choice protected by encryption and private contracts, or a Big Brotheresque world in which surveillance technologies and databases catalog our behaviors.”
Communication and the collective
An expert on jury dynamics, Associate Professor of Communication SunWolf was involved with a death penalty trial when she experienced a moment of epiphany—about how to reach a juror’s heart and mind. Her subsequent studies in communication theory have yielded, most recently, the textbook Peer Groups: Expanding Our Study of Small Group Communication (Sage, 2008, $34.95). In it, she examines the communication methods used within teen cliques, street gangs, and juries. SunWolf specializes in interpersonal communication, group processes, and oral storytelling. She also is a visiting professor at SCU’s School of Law.
Out in paperback: Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2008, $22.95), a biography of the legendary progressive reformer by Associate Professor of History Nancy C. Unger. The Wisconsin governor and U.S. senator was named one of the seven greatest senators in American history by the Senate. Why? He energized the nation and his home state into with a progressive zeal in response to excesses of the Gilded Age. He helped launch child labor laws, land conservation, worker’s compensation, and women’s suffrage into legislation. An unabashed LaFollette fan, Unger earned praise from the New York Times Book Review for offering a “subdued and objective” analysis of her subject; better still, with Fighting Bob’s details and insight, “La Follette manages to leap from its pages.” Unger won the Wisconsin Historical Society Book of Merit Award for Fighting Bob La Follette in 2001; the hardcover edition was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2000.
From Mytilene and Jerusalem
When writer and artist Paul Alexander Bartlett was killed in a car crash in 1990, he left unfinished a five-novel project called Voices from the Past, written in the form of journals by major historical figures: Sappho, Jesus, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, and Abraham Lincoln. Bartlett’s son, Steven J. Bartlett ’65, has brought the project to completion, and in addition to editing and designing the one-volume edition of Voices, he has published Sappho’s Journal and Christ’s Journal as separate novels (Autograph Editions, 2007, $12.95 and $9.95). In his day, the elder Bartlett earned considerable praise for his fiction—particularly When the Owl Cries, his historical novel set during the Mexican Revolution and esteemed by some as “The Gone with the Wind of Mexico”—and he was lauded by the likes of literary giants Ford Madox Ford, Pearl S. Buck, and James Michener. Alexander Bartlett also penned numerous short stories and poems, and his drawings, illustrations, and paintings have been exhibited across North America.
Ghosts from the page
Travis Williams loves reading. But when he starts to see ghosts—all characters from the writings of John Steinbeck—the boy struggles to separate his beloved literature from reality. At the same time, he’s trying to save his hometown library from budget cuts—and soon enlists the help of his fictioned friends. Such is the stuff of Steinbeck’s Ghost (Feiwel and Friends, 2008, $17.95), a mystery for 10- to 14-year-olds by Lewis Buzbee ’79. It’s the first in a three-part series that has earned praise from Publisher’s Weekly for capturing “the power of literature to transport people to another time and place.” Buzbee’s writing for grown-ups has appeared in Harper’s, GQ, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. He teaches in the MFA program at the University of San Francisco.