Outstanding Academic Titles 2022: Most Read Reviews Part Two

This week we highlight, in no particular order, part two of the most read reviews of the Outstanding Academic Titles from the past year.

Enjoy these five selections from the Choice Reviews 2022 Outstanding Academic Titles list.

This week we highlight, in no particular order, part two of the most read reviews of the Outstanding Academic Titles from the past year.

1. What’s your pronoun?: beyond he and she
Baron, Dennis E. Liveright, 2021

What’s Your Pronoun? is the definitive history to date of gender-neutral and nonbinary pronouns in the English language, an array of expressions that have been proposed or used as alternatives to he and she since the time of Shakespeare. Baron (emer., English and linguistics, Univ. of Illinois) is a Guggenheim and NEH fellow, and his linguistic research is meticulous. He explains not only the origin and usage but also the political and philosophical debate surrounding use of the now-outdated gender-neutral he, the plural they, and the array of zies, hirs, teys, and ims in between. The book includes a 62-page “Chronology of Gender-Neutral and Nonbinary Pronouns” and 24 pages of bibliographic notes. What’s Your Pronoun? joins Baron’s own Grammar and Gender (CH, May’86) as an essential reference on the subject.

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2. The resistance dilemma: place-based movements and the climate crisis
Hoberg, George. MIT, 2021

Place-based resistance to fossil fuel infrastructure has achieved remarkable victories in recent decades, blocking development or expansion of pipelines and raising awareness of the climate impacts of such projects. Synthesizing insights from notable theories of the policy process, this book uses four empirical case studies of high-profile fossil fuel infrastructure projects in North America to examine the conditions under which place-based resistance slowed or thwarted project progress. Each case study distills a complex policy history into a highly readable account, and the narratives are supported by helpful figures and maps, making this work accessible for dedicated general readers—no small feat. An academic and an experienced activist, Hoberg (Univ. of British Columbia) builds on the initial case studies to critically examine “the resistance dilemma”—the risk that opponents of renewable energy infrastructure may seize on the legitimacy and successes of place-based opposition to fossil fuel infrastructure and exploit them toward a new purpose. The resistance dilemma and mechanisms by which it might be addressed are developed through additional examples, offering readers a rich resource for further study—the reference section spans more than 50 pages.

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3. Bi- bisexual, pansexual, fluid, and nonbinary youth
Savin-Williams, Ritch C. New York University, 2021

Savin-Williams (developmental psychology, emer., Cornell Univ.) offers a necessary, nuanced, and accessible book that foregrounds contemporary uses and understandings of sex, gender, and sexuality. Based on interviews with 69 bisexual youth, many of whom did not easily or strictly identify with the term bisexual, Savin-Williams describes and critiques traditional understandings of bisexuality and, in so doing, demonstrates the difficulty of studying rapidly changing sexual practices, identities, and terminologies. The author also shows how an identity such as bisexual is increasingly complicated, even antiquated, given the increase in self-identified heterosexual cisgender women and cisgender men who engage in same-sex sexual acts; a rising recognition of, and challenges to, toxic gender norms; the acknowledgment and budding acceptance of gender and sexual fluidity; and the growing embrace of, and appreciation for, pansexual, genderqueer, and nonbinary identities.

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4. The Routledge companion to Black women’s cultural histories
ed. by Janell Hobson Routledge, 2021

Over the past five decades, several important works have been published on various aspects of Black women’s history, including Are All the Women Still White?: Rethinking Race, Expanding Feminisms (CH, Apr’17, 54-4030), also edited by Hobson (Univ. at Albany, SUNY), and Still Brave: The Evolution of Black Women’s Studies (CH, Aug’10, 47-7179), edited by Frances Smith Foster, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, and Stanlie M. James. However, the work under review attempts a more comprehensive study in terms of time and place, covering ancient eras up to the present in locales across four continents. Black feminist theory, as well as some queer theory, is woven through the 35 relatively short essays, presented in five parts with a generally thematic and chronological arrangement. The international, interdisciplinary contributors tackle topics as disparate as ancient Egypt, the kingdom of Kush, the Haitian Revolution, abolition, anti-colonialism, 20th-century and present day political and literary movements, and much more. There are several illustrations, but unfortunately their placement is uneven among the chapters.
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5America on fire: the untold history of police violence and Black rebellion since the 1960s
Hinton, Elizabeth Kai. Liveright, 2021

This book is gripping and difficult to put down. The detailed analysis of the US failure to address systemic racism is a must read for everyone. Best-selling author Jill Lepore, Pulitzer Prize–winner Heather Ann Thompson, and nationally respected professor and public intellectual Henry Louis Gates Jr., along with many others, see Hinton’s America on Fire as an essential, long-overdue, insightful response to the crisis in the American justice system. Researchers, public policy analysts, law enforcement and government officials, faculty, students, and the general public all need to understand that the problem will continue to fester until Americans accept the Pledge of Allegiance and guarantee “liberty and justice for all.
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