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New Books in Language

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Interviews with Scholars of Language about their New Books

172 Episodes
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If gun violence kills so many Americans, why don’t we see more effective solutions? How much does the way we frame an issue impact how we feel about it? How often are hot button issues deeply polarized due to the biased or intentionally manipulated ways they are presented to the public? In Warped Narratives: Distortion in the Framing of Gun Policy (University of Michigan Press, 2020), Melissa K. Merry (Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Louisville) applies these questions to gun policy highlighting the ways both sides warp the gun policy narrative to fit and further their separate agendas. Noticing the way gun control advocates highlight white victims’ of mass shootings, while gun rights advocates stress self-defense rights, Merry concludes this type of framing serves to further polarize the public leaving policy makers less able to form coalitions and agree to compromise. In this way, warping has consequences for both policy and politics. Employing a social science lens and employing three distinct theoretical frameworks, Merry seeks to understand how and why actors, specifically interest groups, distort narratives. By analyzing “67,000 communications by 15 national gun policy groups between 2000 and 2017 collected from blogs, emails, Facebook posts, and press releases” Merry documents the ways both sides over emphasize and omit crucial aspects of the gun policy debate, ironically resulting in negative consequences and failure for both sides. She combines three powerful theoretical lenses – Narrative Policy Framework, Social Construction of Target Populations, and Critical Race Theory – to reveal the structure and strategy of narratives of gun rights and safety. Both sides focus on atypical characters and settings – and both manipulate racial stereotypes. Warped Narratives: Distortion in the Framing of Gun Policy is a systematic analysis of the gun policy debate providing important groundwork for understanding how specific actors distort and polarize public debate as well as a reflection on the greater implications this has for the future of public policy. Bernadette Crehan assisted with this podcast. Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship (Routledge, 2013) and, most recently, “Retreat from the Rule of Law: Locke and the Perils of Stand Your Ground” in the Journal of Politics (August 2020). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The question of how a state decides what its official language is going to be, or indeed whether it even needs one, is never simple, and this may be particularly true of China which covers a continental landmass encompassing multitude of different language families and groups. Indeed, what is even meant by “Chinese” is unclear when one considers the huge range of related but mutually unintelligible linguistic varieties – from Cantonese to Shanghainese and many other lesser known ones. The story of how the Beijing-derived language today known – at least in English – as “Mandarin” became the standard is thus a highly complex one. In Dialect and Nationalism in China, 1860-1960 (Cambridge University Press, 2020), Gina Anne Tam takes us through the ways that people in China have navigated the country’s complex linguistic landscape while also negotiating profound questions over the meanings of modern Chinese identity itself. Moving smoothly from the late imperial period up to the Maoist sixties and indeed beyond, this book is a rich source of insight into how states standardize language, and along the way explores the linguistic debates underlying many vital projects, from educating a nation, to writing novels, organizing socialist revolution, performing opera, and indeed dissing foreigners in rap tracks. Gina Anne Tam is Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese History at Trinity University, Texas. Ed Pulford is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and northeast Asian indigenous groups. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On this episode of the New Books Network, Dr. Lee Pierce (she/they) interviews Dr. Ruth Leys (she/hers), Professor Emeritus of Johns Hopkins University, on The Ascent of Affect: Genealogy and Critique (University of Chicago Press, 2017). In recent years, emotions have become a major, vibrant topic of research not merely in the biological and psychological sciences but throughout a wide swath of the humanities and social sciences as well. Yet, surprisingly, there is still no consensus on their basic nature or workings. Ruth Leys’s brilliant, much anticipated history, therefore, is a story of controversy and disagreement. The Ascent of Affect focuses on the post–World War II period, when interest in emotions as an object of study began to revive. Leys analyzes the ongoing debate over how to understand emotions, paying particular attention to the continual conflict between camps that argue for the intentionality or meaning of emotions but have trouble explaining their presence in non-human animals and those that argue for the universality of emotions but struggle when the question turns to meaning. Addressing the work of key figures from across the spectrum, considering the potentially misleading appeal of neuroscience for those working in the humanities, and bringing her story fully up to date by taking in the latest debates, Leys presents here the most thorough analysis available of how we have tried to think about how we feel. We hope you enjoyed listening as much as we enjoyed chatting about this fascinating book. Connect with your host, Lee Pierce, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @rhetoriclee for interview previews, the best book selfies, and new episode alerts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
College courses in Ethics tend to focus on theories of the moral rightness or wrongness of actions. This emphasis sometimes obscures the fact that morality is a social project: part of what makes a decent and stable society possible is that we uphold standards of conduct. We call out bad behavior, blame wrongdoers, and praise those who do the right things. We apologize and forgive in public ways. In short, we hold one another responsible.  Again, this is all necessary. However, we are all familiar with the ways in which the acts associated with upholding morality can go wrong. For instance, blame can be excessive, apologies can be patronizing, and so on. Another way in which things can go wrong is when people wield morality opportunistically – for self-aggrandizement, or to elevate themselves in the eyes of others. In Grandstanding: The Use and Abuse of Moral Talk (Oxford University Press, 2020), Brandon Warmke and Justin Tosi call this broad type of moral breakdown grandstanding. Their book examines the different kinds of grandstanding, demonstrates why grandstanding is morally bad, and proposes some tips for avoiding it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On this episode of the New Books Network, Dr. Lee Pierce (s/t) interviews editors Donovan Conley and Justin Eckstein about their new book Cookery: Food Rhetorics and Social Production (University of Alabama Press, 2020), which explores the rhetoric of contemporary food production and consumption with a focus on social boundaries. Cookery explores how food mediates both rhetorical influence and material life through the overlapping concepts of invention and production. The essays in this volume probe the many ways that food informs contemporary social life through its mediation of bodies—human and extra-human alike. Each chapter explores food’s persuasive nature through a unique prism that includes intoxication, dirt, “food porn,” strange foods, and political “invisibility.” Each case offers new insights about the relations between rhetorical influence and embodied practice through food. As a whole, Cookery articulates new ways of viewing food’s powers of persuasion, as well as the inherent role of persuasion in agricultural production Donovan Conley is Berman Chair in Language and Thought and associate professor of communication studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Justin Eckstein is assistant professor and director of forensics in the communication department at Pacific Lutheran University. We hope you enjoyed listening as much as we enjoyed chatting about this fascinating book. Connect with your host, Lee Pierce, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for interview previews, the best book selfies, and new episode alerts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
What are some of the prevalent ways in which we lie to ourselves and limit our flexibility? Today I discussed this and other questions with David R. Grimes, the author of The Irrational Ape: Why Flawed Logic Puts Us All at Risk, and How Critical Thinking Can Save the World (Simon & Schuster, 2019). Grimes is a cancer researcher, physicist, and writer. He contributes to media outlets such as PBS, the BBC, the Guardian, the Irish Times, and the New York Times. This is his first book. Topics covered in this episode include: --What’s the origin of the term “snake oil” and how it illustrates the book’s larger points. --Which emotions social media, especially Facebook, exploit most effectively and why. How are the “sins” of social media similar to different from how traditional mass media operates? --In both work settings and in one’s private life, what kind of human foibles and illogical fallacies put us most at risk. What one emotion may help us grow and interact with others best. Dan Hill, PhD, is the author of eight books and leads Sensory Logic, Inc. To check out his “Faces of the Week” blog, visit https://emotionswizard.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On this episode of the New Books Network, Lee M Pierce (s/t) interviews Luke Winslow of Baylor University on the book Luke Winslow, American Catastrophe: Fundamentalism, Climate Change, Gun Rights, and the Rhetoric of Donald J. Trump (Ohio State University Press, 2020), which offers a fresh, provocative, and insightful contribution to our most pressing social challenges by taking an orientation toward catastrophe. On the face of things, argues Winslow, most of us would agree that catastrophe is harmful and avoiding it is key to human survival and progress. And yet, the planet warms, 30,000 more Americans are killed by guns each year, and Donald J. Trump creates political chaos with his rage tweets. American Catastrophe explores such examples to argue that, in fact, we live in an age where catastrophe not only functions as a dominant organizing rhetoric but further as an appealing and unifying force for many communities across America. Winslow introduces rhetorical homology as a critical tool useful for understanding how catastrophic appeals unite Americans across disparate religious, ecological, cultural, and political spheres. More specifically, the four case study chapters examining Christian fundamentalism, anti-environmentalism, gun rights messaging, and the administration of Donald Trump reveal a consistent formal pattern-oriented toward catastrophe. Ohio State University has been gracious enough to provide temporary free access to books such as American Catastrophe through their Bibliovault Scholarly Repository. We’d love to connect with you about the ideas in this interview and others from the New Books Network. Find your hostess with the mostess, Lee Pierce, on LinkedIn @leempierce and @rhetoriclee on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Gmail. Connect with today’s author, Luke Winslow, at winslowluke@gmail.com and read his recent Op-Ed about the COVID-19 pandemic for the Waco Tribune. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On this episode of the New Books Network, Lee Pierce (s/t) interviews Jay Timothy Dolmage of the University of Waterloo on the new book Disabled Upon Arrival: Eugenics, Immigration, and the Construction of Race and Disability (Ohio State University Press, 2018), a compelling examination of the spaces, technologies, and discourses of immigration restriction during the peak period of North American immigration in the early twentieth century. In North America, immigration has never been about immigration. That was true in the early twentieth century when anti-immigrant rhetoric led to draconian crackdowns on the movement of bodies, and it is true today as new measures seek to construct migrants as dangerous and undesirable. Through careful archival research and consideration of the larger ideologies of racialization and xenophobia, Disabled Upon Arrival links anti-immigration rhetoric to eugenics—the flawed “science” of controlling human population based on racist and ableist ideas about bodily values. Dolmage casts an enlightening perspective on immigration restriction, showing how eugenic ideas about the value of bodies have never really gone away and revealed how such ideas and attitudes continue to cast groups and individuals as disabled upon arrival. Thanks to OSU Press for providing disabled Upon Arrival for free through the OSU Knowledge Bank (may require in Institutional subscription). Click here to access a PDF of disabled upon arrival. You can also find an open access version of Jay’s previous book, Academic Ableism, courtesy of the University of Waterloo Arts Research Office. Click here to access Academic Ableism. Connect with Jay on Twitter @jaydolmage Connect with your host, Lee Pierce, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @rhetoriclee for interview previews, the best book selfies, and new episode alerts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On this episode of the New Books Network, Lee Pierce (s/t interviews Shiu-Yin Sharon Yam of University of Kentucky on the new book, Inconvenient Strangers: Transnational Subjects and the Politics of Citizenship (Ohio State University Press, 2019), which explores how intersecting networks of power—particularly race and ethnicity, gender, and social class—marginalize transnational subjects who find themselves outside a dominant citizenship that privileges familiarity and socioeconomic and racial superiority. In this study of how neoliberal ideas limit citizenship for marginalized populations in Hong Kong, Shui-yin Sharon Yam examines how three transnational groups—mainland Chinese maternal tourists, Southeast Asian migrant domestic workers, and South Asian permanent residents—engage with the existing citizenry and gain recognition through circulating personal narratives. Coupling transnational feminist studies with research on emotions, Yam analyzes court cases, interviews, social media discourse, and the personal narratives of Hong Kong’s marginalized groups to develop the concept of deliberative empathy—critical empathy that prompts an audience to consider the structural sources of another’s suffering while deliberating one’s own complicity in it. Yam argues that storytelling and familial narratives can promote deliberative empathy among the audience as both a political and ethical response—carrying the affective power to jolt the dominant citizenry out of their usual xenophobic attitudes and ultimately prompt them to critically consider the human conditions they share with the marginalized and move them toward more ethical coalitions. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed chatting with Sharon about this fascinating book. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for interview previews, the best book selfies, and new episode alerts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Brian Greene is a Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he is the Director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and co-founder and chair of the World Science Festival. He is well known for his TV mini-series about string theory and the nature of reality, including the Elegant Universe, which tied in with his best-selling 2000 book of the same name. In this episode, we talk about his latest popular book Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Random House, 2020) Until the End of Time gives the reader a theory of everything, both in the sense of a “state of the academic union”, covering cosmology and evolution, consciousness and computation, and art and religion, and in the sense of showing us a way to apprehend the often existentially challenging subject matter. Greene uses evocative autobiographical vignettes in the book to personalize his famously lucid and accessible explanations, and we discuss these episodes further in the interview. Greene also reiterates his arguments for embedding a form of spiritual reverie within the multiple naturalistic descriptions of reality that different areas of human knowledge have so far produced. John Weston is a University Teacher of English in the Language Centre at Aalto University, Finland. His research focuses on academic communication. He can be reached at john.weston@aalto.fi and @johnwphd. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this podcast, we interview Dr. Antonia Ruppel about Sanskrit Studies. Dr. Ruppel is the author the Cambridge Introduction to Sanskrit (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and also teaches online Sanskrit courses at Yogic Studies. Ideal for courses in beginning Sanskrit or self-study, this textbook employs modern, tried-and-tested pedagogical methods and tools, but requires no prior knowledge of ancient languages or linguistics. Devanāgarī script is introduced over several chapters and used in parallel with transliteration for several chapters more, allowing students to progress in learning Sanskrit itself while still mastering the script. Students are exposed to annotated original texts in addition to practise sentences very early on, and structures and systems underlying the wealth of forms are clearly explained to facilitate memorisation. All grammar is covered in detail, with chapters dedicated to compounding and nominal derivation, and sections explaining relevant historical phenomena. The introduction also includes a variety of online resources that students may use to reinforce and expand their knowledge: flash cards; video tutorials for all chapters; and up-to-date links to writing, declension and conjugation exercises and online dictionaries, grammars, and textual databases. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Polarization, a disaffected and frustrated electorate, and widespread distrust of government, media, and traditional politicians set the stage in 2016 for an unprecedented presidential contest. For many, Donald Trump’s campaign speeches and other rhetoric seemed on the surface to be simplistic, repetitive, and disorganized. In Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump (Texas A&M University Press, 2020), Jennifer Mercieca shows that Trump’s rhetoric was anything but. As a political communication expert, Mercieca describes the Trump campaign’s expert use of the common demagogic rhetorical techniques. These strategies were meant to appeal to a segment of an already distrustful electorate. Mercieca analyzes Trump’s rhetorical strategies, including argument ad hominem, reification, and paralipsis, to reveal a campaign that was morally repugnant to some, but that was also effective and that may have fundamentally changed the discourse of the American public sphere. Carrie Gillon received her PhD from the Linguistics program at the University of British Columbia in 2006. She is currently an editor and writing coach and the cohost of the Vocal Fries Podcast, the podcast about linguistic discrimination. She is also the author of ​The Semantics of Determiners and the co-author of Nominal Contact in Michif. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On this episode of the New Books Network, Lee Pierce (they/she) interviews Thomas A. Discenna of Oakland University about the myriad ways that the labor of those employed by universities is situated as somehow distinct from ordinary labor. Focusing on a variety of sites where academic labor is discursively constructed in popular consciousness including among the professoriate itself, its critics and detractors, the unionization struggles of graduate students, the invisibility of contingent academics and the resistance to the unionization of student athletes. In Discourses of Denial: The Rhetoric of American Academic Labor (Routledge, 2017), Discenna paints a compelling picture of “the denial of academic labor” happening across public and private institutions, arguing that it functions to underwrite an attack on labor in all of its variations. The professoriate is, therefore, not a retrograde figure of more genteel times but the emblematic figure of late capitalism’s transition to cognitive labor and with it an unceasing colonization of the human lifeworld. I hope you enjoy listening as I much as I enjoyed chatting with Tom about this illuminating book. I’d love to hear from you at rhetoriclee@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @rhetoriclee and @rhetoricleespeaking. Share your thoughts about the interview with the hashtag #newbooksnerd. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018), Diana Senechal examines words, concepts, and phrases that demand reappraisal. Targeting a variety of terms, the author contends that a “good fit” may not always be desirable; delivers a takedown of the adjective “toxic”; and argues that “social justice” must take its place among other justices. This book also includes a critique of our modern emphasis on quick answers and immediate utility. By scrutinizing words and phrases that serve contemporary fads and follies, this book stands up against the excesses of language and offers engaging alternatives. Drawing on literature, philosophy, social sciences, music, and technology, Senechal offers a rich framework to make fresh connections between topics. Combining sharp criticism, lyricism, and wit, Mind over Memes argues for judicious and imaginative speech. Marci Mazzarotto is an Assistant Professor of Digital Communication at Georgian Court University in New Jersey. Her research interests center on the interdisciplinary intersection of academic theory and artistic practice with a focus on film and television studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Did Donald Trump win the U.S. presidency in 2016 because he was a master of character work – able to sum up opponents in pithy epithets that encourage the public to see them as weak or immoral? What is character work and how do characters with roots in ancient crease help us understand 21st-century politics? While many scholars of politics focus on plots, James M. Jasper, Michael P. Young and Elke Zuern encourage us to look at the characters – particularly the simplified packaging of the intentions, capacities, and actions of public figures. In Public Characters: The Politics of Reputation and Blame (Oxford University Press, 2020), Jasper and his colleagues show how political figures often allocate praise and blame, identify social problems, cement identities and allegiances, develop policies, and articulate our moral intuitions. Democracies need to understand where characters -- heroes, villains, victims, and minions – come from in order to keep their influence within proper bounds. Although part of a Western rhetorical tradition, character work is often done through dress, posters, facial expressions, statues, paintings, photos, and music. In the podcast, Jasper discusses Trump’s conveying of ancient rhetorical symbols through Twitter, the gendered nature of “strength” or “heroism,” and the uncomfortable use of stereotypes that shape group “characters.” Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship (Routledge, 2013). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On this episode of the New Books Network, Lee Pierce (she/they) interviews E. Michele Ramsey of PennState Berks on Major Decisions: College, Career, and the Case for the Humanities (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), a robust defense of Communication and the Humanities as disciplines of study. Major Decisions is a breathtaking work of research that proves the values and skills taught in humanities disciplines are exactly those needed in the 21st century. Despite the persistence of the myth “you can’t get a job with an English or Theatre major,” Major Decisions, which Ramsey co-authored with Laurie Grobman, shows that not only are humanities majors welcome on the job market; their critical thinking skills and creativity are also integral to advancing the work of science, technology, medicine, math, and engineering. Indeed, the core skills and knowledge imparted by an education in the humanities—including facility with written and verbal communication, collaboration, problem-solving, technological literacy, ethics, leadership, and an understanding of the human impacts of globalization—are immensely useful to employers across a variety of sectors. I hope you enjoy listening as I much as I enjoyed chatting with Michele about this important book. I’d love to hear from you at rhetoriclee@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @rhetoriclee and @rhetoricleespeaking. Share your thoughts about the interview with the hashtag #newbooksnerd. ~lee Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On this episode, Lee Pierce (she/they interviews John R. Gallagher of University of Illinois about Update Culture and the Afterlife of Digital Writing (Utah State University Press, 2020) a dynamic look at the life of a text in the 21st century. Looking at wealth of case studies among Amazon reviewers, redditors, and established journals, Update Culture is a deep diver into the many factors that contribute to the circulation of a digital text. The key three themes Gallagher explores include timing, attention, and management and they provide rhetorical points of access to understand the ever-evolving conditions of digital writing across genres and mediums. I hope you enjoy listening as I much as I enjoyed chatting with John about this instructive book. I’d love to hear from you at rhetoriclee@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @rhetoriclee and @rhetoricleespeaking. Share your thoughts about the interview with the hashtag #newbooksnerd. ~lee Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On this episode, Lee Pierce (she/they) interviews Joe Packer of Central Michigan University about A Feeling of Wrongness: Pessimistic Rhetoric on the Fringes of Popular Culture (Penn State UP, 2019), an intriguing book attempting to rescue pessimism from the dustbin of public emotion and philosophical thought. From the work of H.P. Lovecraft to Rick and Morty to True Detective, Packer and Stoneman find the best of pessimistic philosophy reflected back in the weird affects of these cultural touchstones. A Feeling of Wrongness explores how these texts twist genres, upend common tropes, and disturb conventional narrative structures in a way that catches their audience off guard, resulting in belief without cognition, a more rhetorically effective form of pessimism than philosophical pessimism. I hope you enjoy listening as I much as I enjoyed chatting with Joe about this fascinating book. I’d love to hear from you at rhetoriclee@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @rhetoriclee and @rhetoricleespeaking. Share your thoughts about the interview with the hashtag #newbooksnerd. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Since the mid-1990s, there has been a seismic shift in attitudes toward gay and lesbian people, with a majority of Americans now supporting same-sex marriage and relations between same-sex, consenting adults. However, support for transgender individuals lags far behind; a significant majority of Americans do not support the right of transgender people to be free from discrimination in housing, employment, public spaces, health care, legal documents, and other areas. Much of this is due to deeply entrenched ideas about the definition of gender, perceptions that transgender people are not "real" or are suffering from mental illness, and fears that extending rights to transgender people will come at the expense of the rights of others. So how do you get people to rethink their prejudices? In their book Transforming Prejudice: Identity, Fear, and Transgender Rights (Oxford University Press, 2020), Melissa R. Michelson and Brian F. Harrison examine what tactics are effective in changing public opinion regarding transgender people. The result is a new approach that they call Identity Reassurance Theory. The idea is that individuals need to feel confident in their own identity before they can embrace a stigmatized group like transgender people, and that support of members of an outgroup can be encouraged by affirming the self-esteem of those targeted for attitude change. Michelson and Harrison, through their experiments, show that the most effective messaging on transgender issues meets people where they are, acknowledges their discomfort without judgment or criticism, and helps them to think about transgender people and rights in a way that aligns with their view of themselves as moral human beings. In this interview, Dr. Michelson, Dr. Harrison, and I discuss common issues faced by transgender people, and the ideologies that contribute to anti-transgender discrimination. We then discuss three of the nine experiments conducted by Michelson and Harrison that provide empirical evidence to support the claims in their book. Lastly, we discuss potential ways to change discriminatory beliefs towards transgender people. I recommend this book for people interested in public opinion, social psychology, and LGBTQ issues. Dr. Melissa R. Michelson (@profmichelson) is Professor of Political Science at Menlo College. Dr. Brian F. Harrison is a Lecturer at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Founder and President of Voters for Equality. Krystina Millar is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University. Her research interests include gender, sociology of the body, and sexuality. You can find her on Twitter at @KrystinaMillar. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Incivility in our public discourse is limiting our ability to get things done as a nation and preventing us from expressing ourselves in workplaces and classrooms for fear of offending those with real or imagined historical grievances or even merely strongly held views. If you agree with that, then Adam J. MacLeod’s book The Age of Selfies: Reasoning About Rights When the Stakes Are Personal (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020) is the book for you. Alternatively, if you think such fears are overblown and just a nefarious argument advanced by a self-serving elite to justify a return to establishment rule this is likewise the book for you. Why both audiences? Because this important volume is all about how to go about thinking and reasoning and the role morality plays in those processes. In his book, MacLeod argues that due to the decline in moral education young people he dubs “selfies” have entered academia and the workplace without moral cores and are so riven with narcissism and a sense of entitlement that they are unable to think of the common good and are quick to take umbrage at any sort of questioning of their own personal preferences. According to MacLeod, a return to a larger place for openly moral arguments will enrich American life and enhance governance. To MacLeod, the misguided view of past decades that morality should play no part in policy making and that strict neutrality should be observed in the public square has only resulted in an acrimony-generating impoverishment of ideas and options. He suggests that the legal and philosophical concept of natural law can heal the ailing body politic and help soften divisions--or at least clarify, in a civilized way, what is at stake. In short, he wants us to learn how to “disagree well.” Give a listen. Hope J. Leman is a grants researcher. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Comments (1)

Gazelle KJ

How is the human mind so constituted such that has this ability? How do human being work suchthat they use this ability and the way that they use it?

Apr 13th
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