The Spoken and the Written Word

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Gary B. Nash

Growing up in suburban Philadelphia during the Great Depression and World War II, I hadn’t the faintest notion that I would be bitten by the history bug and never recover from the fever it induced. But looking back over nearly six decades in the profession, I can discern the effect of words I read and words I heard–fragments that lodged unawares in my youthful consciousness.

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Apocalyptic Books and the Meaning of Life


Lisa Vox

The research for my recent book on apocalyptic beliefs spanned 15 years, and most of the fiction I read during that time period had something to do with the end of the world. I was in my early 20s when I started reading apocalyptic fiction, and doomsday books were on my nightstand throughout many of life’s happenings when I was a young adult.

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Growing up as a Reader: Some Literary Likes

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Sheila Kindred

I cannot imagine life without the magic of novels. At age four, I entered the world of Peter Rabbit. I loved the first line of The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, with its initial caution that “the effect of eating too much lettuce is soporific.” “Soporific” sounded so compelling, so strongly suggestive of a state of affairs not to be taken lightly. And the word was fun to say, to repeat for the sheer pleasure of the sounds. I found myself drawn into tales of adventurous but naughty rabbits and I was motivated to learn to read these tales for myself. The Peter Rabbit stories, with their charming illustrations, remain among the most loved books of my childhood. Continue Reading ›

Glitches in the Matrix: books that disrupt paradigms

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Colleen Eren

An undergraduate student recently remarked to me, “I think I’m going to be coming to you for advisement, you’re a sociologist, and sociologists are people who can see glitches in the Matrix.” For those unacquainted with the cult classic science fiction film he was alluding to, a very brief explanation: the protagonist, a computer hacker named Neo, is awoken to the shocking realization that the world as he experiences it is nothing more than an artifice, a kind of virtual reality fabricated by a sentient computer program to enslave the minds and bodies of humanity. “The Matrix,” then, is the term for that all-encompassing mental construction.
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How Books Helped Me Move On


Theresa Morris

I grew up moving around. We moved at least once every few years, and I hated it. I was always the new kid at school and was thus forced to integrate into the social milieu over and over, try to convince teachers I was smart over and over, and find friends over and over. And, with each move, just when I found my footing in the school, had the attention of teachers, and had established a core group of good friends, we moved again. That describes my life growing up. I went to a total of eleven schools from Kindergarten through 12th grades, an average of almost one a year.
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How to Write about China as a Network Nation


Yu Hong

In the past seven years, I lived an arduous life of being a researcher and a scholar, working diligently on my book project Networking China. In this intellectual journey, books have been the best companions. A couple of works stood out for helping me identify a dynamic phenomenon that I intend to describe and explain. They are books that created light-bulb moments, shaping my ideas about China as a so-called network nation. Particularly inspiring are media critic Herbert Schiller’s Information and the Crisis Economy and political scientist Edward Steinfeld’s Playing Our Game: Why China’s Rise Doesn’t Threat the West.

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