Posts Tagged ‘books’
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
In the Ruins of Civilizations
So, I have been – rather insistently and in fact, quite rightfully so – informed that I have yet to published more than a blurry photo of a box of books containing copies of In the Ruins of Civilizations (and which was only on twitter). This lack of a post is not due to the fact that I don’t want to write anything about my book, but rather that I always had this vague plan of making a really concise and yet well-written, shiny and comprehensive blog post about it, eclipsing all my other blog posts. Which, yeah … good luck with that. All my precision and conciseness and tweaking of sentences and passages and words and structures and … stuff … seems to go into my academic writing, and when I post to my blog I just … I don’t know … post to my blog? In a more meandering and rambly and slice-of-life kind of way?
(And so much for conciseness, I hear you mumble…).
But, yes, there’s this book. Which is also my PhD. That I wrote. And defended. And that then got published. And came out back in March. And which you most likely missed out on, newswise, as, like I said, all I did was tweet a photo of a box of books, as term had just started and things were reeeally busy and I wanted to make a powerfully eloquent entry.
This is what the back cover has to say about it:
Post-apocalyptic novels tell stories set after a global catastrophe has led to the ‘end of the world’. But only in the rarest of cases does the ‘end of the world’ actually mean the end of the planet (or even of the human race), and it is on what remains after the end of the world that this book focuses on. What is left of the world from ‘before’? How are these remnants depicted and how do survivors interact with them? What influence does the state of the physical world have on these interactions? How are these processes narrated, and on which narrative level?
To answer these questions, In the Ruins of Civilizations concisely covers the history and appeal of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic tales and then focuses on four post-apocalyptic novels published in the 21st century – Margaret Atwood’s Oryx & Crake, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Bernard Beckett’s Genesis, and Robert C. Wilson’s Julian Comstock – a story of 22nd Century America. Its theoretical approach is based on the work of ruin theorists, analyses of the depiction of non-functional objects in literature, ecocriticism, socio-geographical readings of landscapes and wildernesses, as well as on theories of narrative levels, narrative communication and space in narrative. It shows that the interplay between narrative structures, world constructions, corporeal objects and physical realities forms the fundamental embodying locus of post-apocalyptic novels.
It was published by the Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, and if you really want one, you can get a copy there. (I mean, that is, I’d be delighted if you wanted one, but it *is* more a book for the McCarthian scholar and ecocritics and P-A geeks and people interested in ruin theories than for, I don’t know, the fluffy chillaxing afternoon escapist reader).
And that is that – I don’t usually post about my academic writing/life on here much, but here you go.
Saturday, August 11th, 2012
Sunday, July 8th, 2012
Summer Reading (this title is misleading!)
Misleading not in so far as whether or not we’re going to have anything resembling a proper summer up here (I am typing this sitting on my living room windowsill, with the window open and the sun shinging on my legs, so today is definitely the fourth truly summer-y day up here this year [the other three were over Pentecost]), but rather that the books I will mention here shall undoubtedly only constitute a very small part of my summer reading – the for fun, non-fiction, not directly concerning my work/academic disciplines part. And might not all get read during the summer either, depending on work and other reading. But I am determined to make at least some of them summer reading! In fact, I’ve already started.
Among the various and manifold small sub-jobs I have in our department, one of them is to be our library liaison – which mostly means that I get a lot of book catalogues sent to me or passed on to me by other colleagues, I round robin them to my colleagues asking if they want me to order any of the books in them for the library, keep an eye out for more generalist books that we could use, and then get in touch with my (wondeful) contact person at the library telling her the books we want. An effect of this job is that a lot of publishing houses and book distributors have me in their mailing lists, and thus I get a lot of emails about books not relating to our field and general book offers, as well. And every year in the early summer, I get an email from the Oxford University Press* about their ‘summer sale for private academics’ (or some such title), where they sell books to said ‘private academics’ (IE not to uni libraries/institutions) at super reduced prices (up to 80%). And always a lot of other books that manage to intrigue me – and so, every year, I set myself a spending limit and then buy books about things that sound interesting. I usually put one or two of the more expensive but truly centrally interesting and academically relevant-to-my-subject must-have books in my shopping basket first, and then I sort the list by price and look for things that sound a) fascinating, b) accessible (I have learned since first doing this that, when it says ‘for the advance student of mathematics’, one better heed the warning …) and that c) get decent reviews else-net. I usually end up with a mix of maths and science theory, archeology, history, philosophy and linguistics. You can see this year’s haul depicted on the right.
I started reading Symmetry and the Monster this morning – and while I am still not sure what precisely ‘the Monster’ is, I’ve learned a lot of fascinating things about cubes, octagedrons, icosahedrons and dodecahedrons in chapter 1 alone. We’re into Évariste Galois’ work on the grouping of permutations right now, and, puh, I’ll need to let this all settle for a bit before reading on – I am at the stage where I get what the text says, but don’t yet truly get what it means, in an application-oriented kind of sense.
Incidentally, needing to take a break is good, since I’ve promised the afternoon to image-use inquiries and getting-the-PhD-ready-for-publication-work.
Oh, and an update on ‘la grande expérience’: reading your guitar tuner upside down is confusing. Also, what kind of bad idea was this? It’s not only that hands need to do different things now, it feels like I am trying to re-wire my brain at the same time! The first hurdle is definitely – as expected – a steep one. But intriguingly so. I shall persevere (for now)!
* Dear other UPs and publishing houses out there, mine is an equal opportunity shopping spree, so if you have serious offers like that, mail ’em round. :-) (Uh, next year?) If you spam me, though, no business from me!
Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
Fly by update
This is a fly by update, in the sense that its been a while since I posted anything, but I also really don’t have any actual time to post anything profound, and I am stealing 5 minutes to do this while my late-lunch-early-dinner is cooking, which I shall consume as quickly as possible, and then head out to finish class preparation for tomorrow and go to the public library to speak about the end of the world in fiction and how the end of the world never really is one at that. Busy busy busy.
Headed home because I missed the window during which the university canteen is open and serving lunch, and finding gluten and dairy free food in the cafeteria is impossible … well, there’re apples (which I also ought not eat). Plus I needed to go pick up some things for my lecture anyway, so I just moved the timing around a bit.
On the right there you can see what is currently in my to-read-for-fun pile (different kinds of fun, but still fun), which I will need to pick something from to take on the train with me (I am going home for the weekend). I shall also be taking things to read-for-work and the second draft of an article I need to work on, but it’s going to be a lot of train-ing, and so I might get to read something besides work things, and be finished with the article before the train gets to Mannheim.
But now the rice has finished cooking, and I better go eat, and then it’s back ter work! Later, all y’all!
Friday, March 2nd, 2012
I don’t like to brag, but since I posted a moany “let time pass” post yesterday and I know a lot of you were crossing your fingers for me and/or sent me good wishes yesterday or in the days before, it’s only fair to tell you how it all ended up turning out.
Everything’s graded now and done with (except for publication) and I am chuffed (chuffed! Ha! An understatement!) that you can now call me Ms Summa-cum-Laude. :-)
(Or alternatively, totally still Sib or Sibylle or whatever else it is we usually call each other, but yes, it’s all done, and today went well, and I had fun and could have kept fielding questions for a while, I felt. If all is well that ends well, then all is well indeed, today.)
So, things are good – now to do some hovering and cleaning up, and then we’re going out for dinner! (Untidy flats, they wait for no woman… . They shall, however, be cleaned up with extra jazz hands &c today). *\o/*
Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Now I don’t know why I decided to put my Complete Works of William Shakespeare into my non-fiction and work-related etc books book shelf in my study instead of in the kinda-highbrow-authors-alphabetically-by-last-name shelf in the living room, but let me tell you, upon not discovering Shakespeare where I thought he ought to be I spent a little while contemplating whether one actually needed to source Shakespeare quotes precisely, or whether or not simply stating that “All the perfumes of Arabia…” was from Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 1 and uttered by Lady Macbeth without giving a precise edition and page number might be enough. Where does common knowledge start, and where does it end? How much does academic writing take brain sludge into account?
Yes, yes, facetious and pointless ponderings, I know … I was going to leave the rought source in and to get a copy of Shakespeare from the library at work tomorrow, when I thought to check my non-fiction shelf. And lo and behold, there it was, right between The Oxford Book of English Short Stories and Passionate Minds. (Yes, the sorting system makes sense – to me. If it would to anyone else – who knows… . [Umberto Eco – shelved in three places. But, *shhh*, it works!] [Mostly.]).
In case anyone wonders, the framed piece of paper on the right hand side is a sheet from an old print of the Codex Iustitianus ad vetustorum Exemplarum Recognitus (Code of Justinian, According to the Ancient Authorities).
And now I go source my Shakespeare quote properly.