All posts filed under: Reviews

The Taste of Place

Reviewed by Kerstin McGaughey, Boston University Amy Trubek. The Taste of Place: A Cultural Journey Into Terroir. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2008. 250 Pages.1 Amy Trubek’s latest book is an engaging and thorough introduction to the notion of terroir, or the “taste of place,” in the United States. Not only does […]

Blinky Palermo: Abstraction of an Era & Used Paint: Robert Ryman

Reviewed by Godfre Leung, University of Rochester Christine Mehring. Blinky Palermo: Abstraction of an Era. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008. 297 pages. Suzanne P. Hudson. Used Paint: Robert Ryman. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009. 315 pages. In our time, the single artist monograph is becoming an endangered species. Recent titles in art history increasingly […]

Milk and Melancholy

Reviewed by Gabrielle Moser, York University Kenneth Hayes. Milk and Melancholy. Toronto and Cambridge, MA: Prefix Press/MIT Press, 2008. 156 Pages.1 Reading Milk and Melancholy, one imagines that architectural historian, critic, and curator Kenneth Hayes must have spent a great deal of time answering the question: “Why milk?” The result of more than a decade of […]

The Everyday

Reviewed by Jennifer Dyer, Memorial University of Newfoundland Stephen Johnstone, ed. The Everyday. London and Cambridge, MA: Whitechapel/MIT Press, 2008. 240 pages. Stephen Johnstone’s anthology The Everyday—the latest in the Whitechapel/MIT series “Documents of Contemporary Art”—brings together a wide-ranging collection of texts that deal with contemporary art’s encounters with the quotidian. The artists, critics, curators, and […]

The Comfort of Things

Reviewed by Jessica S. McDonald, University of Rochester Daniel Miller. The Comfort of Things. Cambridge: Polity, 2008. 302 Pages. Anthropologist Daniel Miller is recognized for his innovative studies of material culture and consumption, outlined in his 1987 publication Material Culture and Mass Consumption and developed through more recent works such as his 2005 edited anthology Materiality. Though […]

Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?

Reviewed by Lara Mazurski, University of Amsterdam (UVA) Judith Butler. Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? London: Verso, 2008. 193 pages. Contemporary war, and the “cultural modes of regulating affective and ethical dispositions through a selective and differential framing of violence” (1), is the focus of Judith Butler’s most recent work Frames of War: […]

Origins of the Chinese Avant-Garde

Reviewed by Bo Zheng, University of Rochester Xiaobing Tang. Origins of the Chinese Avant-Garde: The Modern Woodcut Movement. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2008. 318 pages. Tang Xiaobing’s book is like a grand history painting that portrays its main subject—the woodcut movement that emerged in Republican China in the 1920s and 30s—against […]

Migrations of Gesture

Reviewed by Jane Van Slembrouck, Fordham University Carrie Noland and Sally Ann Ness, eds. Migrations of Gesture. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 2008. 296 pages. For critics in the arts and humanities, the term “gesture” is a seductive one, suggesting a sensual affinity between aesthetic expression and the variability and subtlety of physical movement. If pressed […]

Culinary Art and Anthropology

Reviewed by Helen Vallianatos, University of Alberta Joy Adapon. Culinary Art and Anthropology. Oxford: Berg, 2008. 160 Pages.1 Envisioning salsa made with spicy chilies makes my mouth water. So it was with some excitement to me that Joy Adapon, in her book Culinary Art and Anthropology, included recipes at the end of almost every chapter. I […]

Exiles, Diasporas & Strangers

Reviewed by Amy L. Powell, University of Wisconsin-Madison Kobena Mercer, ed. Exiles, Diasporas & Strangers. Cambridge, MA: Institute of International Visual Arts/MIT Press, 2008. 224 Pages.1 If we consider Kobena Mercer’s latest anthology, Exiles, Diasporas & Strangers, in relation to the title of the InIVA/MIT Press series “Annotating Art’s Histories” in which it appears, a […]

No Caption Needed

Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites. No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. 419 Pages. In Susan Sontag’s final book Regarding the Pain of Others (2003), the literary critic, political activist, and controversial theorist of photography argues that, whether photographs are understood as “naïve object[s]” or […]

Bill Brandt: A Life

Reviewed by Lucy Curzon, University of Rochester Delany, Paul. Bill Brandt: A Life. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004. 336 pages. ISBN: 0804750033 In this lengthy biography of Bill Brandt, author Paul Delany presents the renowned British photographer as a shy and complex individual. Brandt was born in Hamburg, Germany as Hermann Wilhelm Brandt in […]

The Integrated News Spectacle

Reviewed by Ivan Castenada, University of Idaho Compton, James R. The Integrated News Spectacle: A Political Economy of Cultural Performance. New York and Berlin: Peter Lang, 2004. 275 pages. ISBN: 0820470708 Charles Lamb, in his excellent study of the work of Howard Barker, remarked that television “exhibits two convergent tendencies, the authentication of the fictional, and […]

Dancing Machines

Reviewed by Odetta Norton McCarren, Felicia. Dancing Machines: Choreographies of the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003. 254 pages. ISBN: 0804739889 In my work, I move from creative writing to academic writing to dance practice and theory. An editor and mentor once told me that he despised dissertation titles. Wordy, stuffy, overstated, the […]

A Theory of /Cloud/

Reviewed by Brian Curtin, Raffles Design Institute Bangkok Damisch, Hubert. A Theory of /Cloud/: Toward a History of Painting. Translated by Janet Lloyd. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002. 313 pages. ISBN: 0804734402 The “destruction”of linear perspective by modern art did in fact everything but — given the extent to whichlinear perspective preoccupied twentieth-century thought on […]


Reviewed by Mark Denaci, SUNY Geneseo Amy Ziering Kofman and Kirby Dick, Derrida (documentary, 2002) Amy Ziering Kofman and Kirby Dick, the makers of Derrida, seem to have willfully set themselves up for failure. How, after all, could anyone not end up disappointed by a film whose title’s singularity suggests that it will get to […]

Writing Machines

Hayles, N. Katherine. Writing Machines. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002. 144 pages. ISBN: 0262582155 In Writing Machines N. Katherine Hayles offers both a discussion of her budding theory of Media-Specific Analysis (MSA) and a practice devised to outline its applicability. More precisely, Hayles’s book as realized in Anne Burdick’s design — and the publisher’s execution of […]

Sure Seaters

Reviewed by Daniel I. Humphrey, University of Rochester Barbara Wilinsky. Sure Seaters: The Emergence of Art House Cinema. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001. 288 pages. ISBN: 0816635633 In a remarkable turn-around from the discipline’s formative years, recent American film scholarship has largely ignored the art cinema movement of the post-war era. Academic engagement with the […]

Animal Spaces, Beastly Places

Reviewed by Lisa Uddin, University of Rochester Philo, Chris and Chris Wilbert, eds. Animal Spaces, Beastly Places: New Geographies of Human-Animal Relations. London: Routledge, 2000. 310 pages. ISBN: 041519847X In his important 1980 essay “Why Look at Animals?” critic John Berger lamented the marginalization of animals in modernity. Animals, he argued, have been rendered invisible within […]