Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Noteworthy Nugget

It's a small item, but certainly blogworthy here on my official blog of record: This past summer, my new book, Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition, was included in an online Fordham News piece entitled New and Noteworthy from Fordham Faculty, featuring six new books.

The byline goes to Janet Sassi, and the item is dated August 9, 2017, with my book in the lead position. A picture of the book cover is included, and if you've read my previous posts, you know that I really love that cover, so let's include it here as well: 

And let's follow with the short piece, based in part on a brief phone interview with me: 

Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition, by Lance Strate, Ph.D. (Peter Lang, 2017)
In his new book, Strate, professor of communication and media studies, examines how smartphones, apps, and social media shape us as human beings. He expands on an intellectual tradition, one spearheaded by Neil Postman and Marshall McLuhan (who taught at Fordham), that’s about much more than understanding any one particular medium.
“It starts with the understanding that those things we pay attention to, like screens, are not just gadgets,” he said. “We think we can turn them on or off, but when you look at them as part of our environment, we can’t escape them.”
Even people who don’t use social media will be inadvertently affected by it, said Strate, because its use is ubiquitous—much the same as persons who don’t fly and yet must contend with planes continuously flying overhead. “We are living in an environment that is full of these mediations that influence us.”
“We all speak with a language we didn’t create. That influences how we express ourselves and in how we think,” he said.

Oh, and by the way, before the six quick takes, this new and noteworthy item included a picture of four of us, which is also worth sharing here: 

Maybe not my best angle, but we pull no punches here at Blog Time Passing! And don't worry, this won't be the last you hear about my book... 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Shameless and the Shamed

I suppose it's about time I posted my September 1st op-ed for the Jewish Standard  here on Blog Time Passing. Entitled, The Shameless and the Shamed, it is just as relevant now as it was a month ago, or at any time during this new political era we find ourselves in. Anyway, here it is:

Let’s play a game of word association. I’ll say a word and you say the first thing that comes into your mind. Ready?

The word is shameless.

If you answered Trump, then please feel free to continue reading. If not, then you may want to stop right here.

To be frank, I have no desire to bother trying to make a case for why Trump’s behavior ought to be described as shameless. If you can’t see it by now, then whatever proof I might muster won’t make a difference to you. I could easily fill this entire column with evidence, but it wouldn’t matter. And if I merely cited the most recent examples as of this writing, by the time it is published they’ll already be fading from awareness, displaced by newer instances.

In sum, I have no patience left for those who would deny a truth that is so very self-evident.

As I was writing this, the words “have you no shame, sir,” popped into my head, but a quick Google search showed that I had misremembered the quote. It was during the Army-McCarthy Senate hearings in 1954 that the chief consul for the U.S. Army, Joseph N. Welch, said to Senator Joseph McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you no decency?”

With those words, both the Republican senator from Wisconsin and the Communist witch hunt that bore his name—McCarthyism—were fatally shamed. Television played an instrumental role in this, because the hearings were broadcast on the ABC and Dumont networks. It also followed two See It Now exposés produced by the legendary broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow.

McCarthy’s chief counsel, who was a key participant in the exchange that prompted Welch’s denunciation of McCarthy, was attorney Roy Cohn. Two decades later, Cohn would represent a young Donald Trump, and he became something of a mentor to the real estate developer. Cohn is also credited with introducing Trump to Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who gave us the scandal-ridden Fox News cable channel, whose claim to be “fair and balanced” also is delivered without shame.

The connection between Trump and McCarthy is not confined to scapegoating, but also extends to manipulation of the news media. The conservative historian and former Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin coined the term pseudo-event to describe news that is manufactured by journalists and publicists, rather than gathered based on real world occurrences. He argued that the introduction of steam-powered printing presses in the early 19th century made possible the publication of daily newspapers, but there were not enough actual events, train wrecks, hurricanes, elections, armed conflicts, to fill their pages. It therefore became necessary to create pseudo-events that would not have happened except for the presence of the news media, such as interviews, publicity stunts, press releases, press conferences, and leaks. This is what Boorstin wrote about McCarthy in his book The Image:

It is possible to build a political career almost entirely on pseudo-events. Such was that of the late Joseph R. McCarthy, Senator from Wisconsin from 1947-1957. His career might have been impossible without the elaborate, perpetually grinding machinery of ‘information.’… And he was a natural genius at creating reportable happenings that had an interestingly ambiguous relation to underlying reality. Richard Rovere, a reporter in Washington during McCarthy’s heyday recalls:

He knew how to get into the news even on those rate occasions when invention failed him and he had no unfacts to give out. For example, he invented the morning press conference called for the purpose of announcing an afternoon press conference. The reporters would come in—they were beginning, in this period, to respond to his summonses like Pavlov’s dogs at the clang of a bell—and McCarthy would say that he just wanted to give them the word that he expected to be ready with a shattering announcement later in the day, for use in the papers the following morning. This would gain him a headline in the afternoon papers: ‘New McCarthy Revelations Awaited in Capital.’ Afternoon would come, and if McCarthy had something, he would give it out, but often enough he had nothing, and this was a matter of slight concern. He would simply say that he wasn’t quite ready, that he was having difficulty in getting some of the ‘documents’ he needed or that a ‘witness’ was proving elusive. Morning headlines: ‘Delay Seen in McCarthy Case—Mystery Witness Being Sought’.

There is no denying that the reporters who covered McCarthy also were shameless in their pursuit of content, and the same can be said of the news media covering the 2016 election. Recall the comment CBS head Les Moonves made that February about the coverage that Trump was generating: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS…. I’ve never seen anything like this, and this is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”

Shameless pursuit of profit. Shameless self-promotion. Shameless exercise of power. The common denominator is clear.

But what does it mean to be shameless? The experience of shame comes from a concern over how others see us. We feel shame over something because we fear that it will cause others to think poorly of us. Adam and Eve were shamelessly unclothed until they ate the forbidden fruit, “and the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). This doesn’t mean that they had been blind, but rather that they had become ashamed in the sight of each other, and God.

We are not only ashamed of something, we are ashamed before someone. Someone whose opinion of us is important to us.

The Torah tells us that Adam and Eve felt shame because they were naked. It does not say that they felt guilt because they had eaten the fruit. Shame is a more basic, primal experience than guilt, based as it is on the fear of what others may think of us. Guilt is shame internalized. We can have a guilty conscience even if we have no fear of discovery. A guilty verdict is intended to be an objective statement about the defendant who is on trial, not about how others feel about that person. And guilt is separate from punishment. Shame signifies its own consequences—to be shamed before others.

Shame is about relationships. It is felt most acutely in regard to the people closest to us, but it also can extend to the larger entity known as the public. If you follow the HBO series Game of Thrones, you no doubt will recall from the season 5 finale how Cersei, then the Queen Mother, was forced to undergo a walk of atonement. She was stripped naked and led through the city, as crowds threw insults and garbage at her, and a priestess cried out repeatedly, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” And if you grew up in the United States, chances are you read National Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. That book’s title refers to the public shaming of its main character, Hester Prynne.

Television transforms the public of the city square and agora, as well as the reading public made possible by the printing press, into something at once broader and more diffuse. For more than two decades, investigative reporter Arnold Diaz gave us local news stories on WCBS-TV Channel 2 called Shame on You. (I still recall the jingle that preceded the segments: “Shame, shame, shame … shame on you!”)

More recently, social media have amplified both the process of shaming and our sensitivity to it, with many references to body-shaming, fat-shaming, and slut-shaming. Critics decry the decline of civility that leads to indiscriminate shaming on the one hand. But on the other, we have a desire to silence all forms of criticism, and that in turn leads to the accusation that any negative comment is a form of shaming.

We find ourselves in the midst of a series of shame wars.

Television shamed McCarthy, and more importantly, it shamed reporters so that they stopped covering him. The televised Watergate Senate hearings shamed Richard Nixon into resigning the presidency. But CNN’s and MSNBC’s unrelenting shaming of the president do not seem to have the same effect. Perhaps the contrary messages coming from Fox News and Trump’s Twitter feed—the president is notorious for blocking anyone who tweets anything negative about him—insulate him from any sense of shame.

Another possible explanation stems from Trump’s narcissism. Psychologists tell us that narcissism is a defense against powerful, at times nearly unbearable feelings of shame. Shame leads to blame, so that not only does a narcissistic person seek praise and approval, that person also responds in a highly defensive manner to any perceived criticism or slight.

Whatever the reason, a president who has no shame is a recipe for disaster. By way of contrast, consider the American remake of a British working class family TV series called Shameless. Our version, launched on the Showtime cable channel series in 2011, features a family living in extreme poverty, a family that is not working class but instead is part of an underclass. And while the subject of shame is not discussed much in the program, we recognize and even applaud the young family’s skirting of conventional legality and morality in their efforts to survive.

The fear of being shamed is a luxury they cannot afford.

Indeed, a sense of shame is directly proportional to honor, a somewhat archaic yet still significant notion, as well as status, something still very much with us. There is little or no shame possible for those on the lowest rungs of the social order, for example the beggar, while the greatest potential for shame is held by people of the highest status—once upon a time the aristocracy and nobility, today the rich and famous—anyone in a position of leadership at any time.

Honor served as a check against shameful behavior, preserving reputation and privilege, and therefore the leader’s legitimacy. For a person of honor, being dishonored requires that he or she must retreat from public life.

A leader without honor, a shameless leader, is a tyrant. And tyrants do not have a good track record in the United States.

When we talk about the shameless and the shamed, another word comes to our minds. It’s the Yiddish word for shame—shande. We speak of shande not just as individuals, but as a people. It’s the shame we feel collectively when one of our number behaves badly. And it is in this sense that I feel ashamed of our president.

Not guilt, because I didn’t vote for him, but shame as an American, before my friends and colleagues from other nations, shame before the rest of the world, and shame before history, posterity, the generations yet to come, and yes, before God.

In being shameless in his conduct, Trump has shamed all of us, and put our collective honor and status as a nation at risk.

It is a shande, plain and simple. And how shall we respond?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Peter Lang Press Release for Media Ecology

Just a quick update this time around, to share with you the press release from Peter Lang for my recently published book, Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition. Here it is:

Actually, that was just the front page, now here's the flip side:

And while we're at it, here's a photo of me holding my first copy of the book, this past July:

And for more information, see my previous post, Media Ecology: Some Details Regarding My New Book, and stay tuned!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Explorations in Media Ecology

As you may know, Explorations in Media Ecology is the official journal of the Media Ecology Association, and I launched the journal, together with Judith Yaross Lee, almost two decades ago. We published our first issue in 2002, Judith and I co-edited the first three volumes, and I went on to solo edit the next three. After that, I turned the journal over to other editors, notably Corey Anton and Paul Grosswiler.

So, as it turns out, the next editor of EME was unable to take the reins due to other commitments (something trivial, like a college presidency), so I stepped in at the last minute, and returned to the position of journal editor earlier this year. I hope you don't mind if I tell you a little bit about what I'm doing, and then share the call for papers here.

In my view, putting together a good team is essential. That started with the Managing Editor, and I was pleased to be able to recruit Callie Gallo, who is teaching and pursuing a doctorate in English at Fordham University, and is a fine young media ecologist in her own right. She is the journal's equivalent of the White House Chief of Staff, and has both  detail-oriented skills and a global perspective, a rare combination indeed. As we went through the transition from the previous incoming editor, we found that his Editorial Assistant, Joshua Hill, was a great help, so we invited him to stay on, focusing his attention on the first round of copy editing, before articles are sent on to our publisher, Intellect, to smooth the way for their own process of copy editing and layout. Josh's expertise being in composition, his expertise makes a valuable contribution to our efforts, so we are quite pleased that he has been willing to stay on.

One of my goals is to produce a much better book review section than we've had in the past. I really think that book reviews are much more than filler, that they're an important contribution to scholarship, often underrated, and that for EME it is an especially important way to cover new developments in the field of media ecology. To that end, we're in the process of doing a lookback, going back about seven years, to publish reviews of books of particular relevance to the field of media ecology that have been previously overlooked by our journal, along with recent additions of course. I initially recruited my old friend and media ecology fellow traveler, and fellow past president of the New York State Communication Association, Susan Jasko of the California University of Pennsylvania, but her duties as a new department chair proved to be too much to juggle. 

For this reason, I am pleased that Roy Christopher has agreed to serve as our new Book Review Editor. Roy is on the faculty of the University of Illinois, Chicago (and has some experience managing book reviews, as you can see from my recent posts Summer Reading for Roy Part 1 and Summer Reading for Roy Part 2).

Along similar lines, the slot of Pedagogy Editor is being filled by Heather Crandall, a professor of Communication Studies at Gonzaga University (a Jesuit school like Fordham University), who has also been director of their MA program in Communication and Leadership Studies. The original idea for the pedagogy section, that I remember talking to Judith Yaross Lee about when we started it up, was to have articles that specifically addressed the pragmatics of the classroom, the kind of thing that more recently has been referred to, at least in communications circles, as GIFTs—Great Ideas For Teaching. So our aim is to be able to publish articles that discuss how to go about teaching media ecology, resources, exercises, assignments, and teaching strategies.

A third category of contribution that has been included in the journal since the first issue is what we call Probes, a term taken from McLuhan, and the original idea was to include short think pieces or provocative items, or even something diagrammatic like McLuhan's tetrads. Probes allow for items that do not necessarily adhere to rigorous academic standards and anonymous review, but that are otherwise insightful and intellectually stimulating. Previously, EME editors have taken direct charge of evaluating and soliciting probes, but we decided it was time to make Probes a section unto itself, with its own Probes Editor, and it was truly marvelous that Nora Bateson was willing and able to fill that position. Nora is the Founder and President of the International Bateson Institute in Sweden. We then decided that adding a co-editor for this section would make sense, and Michael Plugh of Manhattan College has agreed to take on the task. Mike is a former MA student of mine, and former Fordham University colleague, and fellow Media Ecology Association officer (in charge of our online communications).

In the past, EME has published poetry under the heading of probes, and to broaden our horizons, and also to recognize that there are other ways to further our understanding than the standard academic article or essay, we decided to add a new section devoted to poetry and other forms of creative expression, with Adeena Karasick as Poetry Editor. Adeena is a world renowned poet and performance artist, and professor at Pratt Institute.

Another new addition, a feature that I've seen here and there in other journals, is the forum, a section where several scholars address a particular topic, providing short essays or opinion pieces. This provides a great opportunity to get several different takes on the same question, issue, or theme, and we're fortunate that John Dowd, Professor of Communication at Bowling Green State University, has agreed to serve as Forum Editor. Here too, we then decided to add a co-editor to improve productivity, and I am very pleased that we are to add Emanuela Patti to our team. Emanuela is affiliated with Royal Holloway, University of London, and is, among other things, a former co-editor of the short-lived International Journal of McLuhan Studies.

All right now, it's time to share the Call for Papers for EME, followed by a listing of the editors and editorial board:

Call for Submissions for Explorations in Media Ecology

All articles submitted should be original work and must not be under consideration by other publications.

Explorations in Media Ecology, the journal of the Media Ecology Association, accepts submissions that extend our understanding of media (defined in the broadest possible terms), that apply media ecological approaches, and/or that advance media ecology as a field of inquiry. As an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary publication, EME welcomes contributions embracing diverse theoretical, philosophical, and methodological approaches to the study of media and processes of mediation through language, symbols, codes, meaning, and processes of signification, abstracting, and perception; art, music, literature, aesthetics, and poetics; form, pattern, and method; materials, energy, information, technology, and technique; mind, thought, emotion, consciousness, identity, and behavior; groups, organizations, affiliations, communities; politics, economics, religion, science, education, business, and the professions; societies and cultures; history and the future; contexts, situations, systems, and environments; evolution, and ecology; the human person, human affairs, and the human condition; etc.

EME publishes peer-reviewed scholarly articles, essays, research reports, commentaries, and critical examinations, and includes several special features. Our Pedagogy Section focuses on teaching strategies and resources, pedagogical concerns, and issues relating to media ecology education; we are particularly interested in articles that share great ideas for teaching (GIFTs) media ecology in the classroom. The Probes Section features short items that are exploratory or provocative in nature. Creative writing on media ecological themes can be found in our Poetry Section. Questions of concern to media ecology scholars are taken up in our Forum Section. And our Review Section includes individual book reviews and review essays.

EME is a refereed journal. Strict anonymity is accorded to both authors and referees. References and citations should follow the Harvard Referencing system, and the journal otherwise follows standard British English for spelling and punctuation.

Submissions can be uploaded online.

Direct inquiries to

Lance Strate, Editor
Callie Gallo, Managing Editor
Roy Christopher, Review Editor
Heather Crandall, Pedagogy Editor
Adeena Karasick, Poetry Editor
John Dowd, Forum Editor
Emanuela Patti, Forum Editor
Nora Bateson, Probes Editor
Michael Plugh, Probes Editor

EME Editorial Board

Editor: Lance Strate, Fordham University, USA
Managing Editor: Callie Gallo, Fordham University, USA
Editorial Assistant: Joshua Hill, Pennsylvania College of Technology, USA

Book Review Editor: Roy Christopher, University of Illinois, Chicago, USA
Pedagogy Editor: Heather Crandall, Gonzaga University, USA
Probes Editor: Nora Bateson, International Bateson Institute, Sweden
Probes Editor: Michael Plugh, Manhattan College, USA
Poetry Editor: Adeena Karasick, Pratt Institute, USA
Forum Editor: John P. Dowd, Bowling Green State University, USA
Forum Editor: Emanuela Patti, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

Catherine Adams, University of Alberta, Canada
Robert Albrecht, New Jersey City University, USA
Corey Anton, Grand Valley State University, USA
Ronald C. Arnett, Duquesne University, USA
Eva Berger, The College of Management and Academic Studies, Israel
Sheryl P. Bowen, Villanova University, USA
Adriana Braga, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Jay David Bolter, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
Kimberly Casteline, Fordham University, USA
James W. Chesebro, Ball State University, USA
Brian Cogan, Molloy College, USA
Ronald J. Deibert, University of Toronto, Canada
Susan Drucker, Hofstra Univesity, USA
Gerald J. Erion. Medaille College. USAv Peter K. Fallon, Roosevelt University, USAv Donald Fishman, Boston College, USA
Katherine Fry, Brooklyn College, USA
Thomas F. Gencarelli, Manhattan College. USA
Stephanie B. Gibson, University of Baltimore, USA
Twyla Gibson, University of Missouri, USA
Paul Grosswiler, University of Maine, USA
Gary Gumpert, Urban Communication Foundation, USA
Fernando Gutiérrez, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexicov Maurice L. Hall, Villanova University, USA
Paul Heyer, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada
Renee Hobbs, University of Rhode Island, USA
Lee Humphreys, Cornell University, USA
Octavio Islas, Universidad de los Hemisferios, Ecuador
Huimin Jin, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China
Alex Kuskis, Gonzaga University, USAv Elena Lamberti, University of Bologna, Italy
Dong-Hoo Lee, University of Incheon, Korea
Paul Levinson, Fordham University, USA
Yong Li, Henan University, China
Paul Lippert, East Stroudsburg University, USA
Robert K. Logan, University of Toronto, USA
Karen Lollar, Metropolitan State University, USA
Casey Man Kong Lum, William Paterson University, USAv Brett Lunceford, Independent Scholar, USA
Robert MacDougall, Curry College, USA
Brenton J. Malin, University of Pittsburgh, USA
Eric McLuhan, Independent Scholar, Canada
Paul Messaris, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Joshua Meyrowitz, University of New Hampshire, USA
Deepa Mishra, Univesity of Mumbai, India
Terence P. Moran, New York University, USA
Sheila Nayar, Greensboro College, USA
Julianne H. Newton, University of Oregon, USA
John Pauly, Marquette University, USA
Valerie Peterson, Grand Valley State University, USA
Borys Potyatynyk, Lviv Franko National University, Ukraine
John H. Powers, Hong Kong Baptist University, China
Harald E. L. Prins, Kansas State University, USA
Ellen Rose, University of New Brunswick, Canada
Heidi Rose, Villanova University, USA
Phil Rose, York University, Canada
Douglas Rushkoff, Queens College, USA
Joseph W. Slade, Ohio University, USA
Anthony Smith, Oxford University, UK
Paul Soukup, Santa Clara University, USA
Calvin Troup, Geneva College, USA
Edward Tywoniak, Saint Mary's College of California, USA
Sara van den Berg, Saint Louis University, USA
Barbie Zelizer, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Min Zhou, Shanghai International Studies University, China

And there you have it! To subscribe, beginning with my first volume, volume 16, you need to join the Media Ecology Association for this calendar year, 2017. Also, please ask your institution's library to subscribe to the journal. And by all means, submit your work to us! No need to be shy! And hey, we're only getting started...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Summer Reading for Roy Part 2

So, to follow up on my previous post, Summer Reading for Roy Part 1, I am now prepared to share with you this year's summer reading list, which was included in Roy Christopher's blog post of June 20th, Summer Reading List, 2017, where it appeared along with selections from other academics and intellectuals, including my Fordham University colleague Paul Levinson, and former colleague Alice Marwick.

If you read this post right after the last one, you'll notice certain resonances or connections, even more so than among the previous years. In any event, here it is:
Summer Reading List 2017

I don’t mean to brag, but I was very fortunate to be able to see the musical Hamilton on Broadway this spring, and that has wet my appetite for the biography that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (New York: Penguin, 2004). And from a different era of American history, I plan on reading American Gothic: The Story of America’s Legendary Theatrical Family—Junius, Edwin, and John Wilkes Booth by Gene Smith (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992). In case you’re wondering why, Edwin Booth, who was the most famous stage actor of the 19th century, was the founder of the Players Club in Manhattan (Mark Twain was a co-founder), and over the past year I’ve been organizing events for the New York Society for General Semantics at the club, a historic building that once serve as Edwin Booth’s home (and still preserves the room that he lived, and died in).


Reading biographical and historical accounts is one method of time travel, and I also intend to read up on the subject more generally by diving into James Gleick’s Time Travel: A History (New York: Pantheon, 2016). Time being a topic of great interest to me, another book on my summer stack is Now: The Physics of Time by Richard A. Muller (New York: W.W. Norton).


Two books on language also have caught my eye and are on my pile, The Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe (New York: Little, Brown & Co., 2016), and Words on the Move by John McWhorter (New York: Henry Holt, 2016).


Some years ago, I read the first few books in the A Series of Unfortunate Events collection (New York: HarperCollins) by Lemony Snicket, and was unable to continue for reasons that had nothing to do with the books. I was very impressed with the originality and inventiveness of what I had read, especially the self-conscious, often self-reflexive play with language and literary conventions, really quite brilliant all in all. And with the recent adaption of the books as a Netflix series, I intend to go back to the beginning and read the entire set of 13 volumes: The Bad Beginning (1999), The Reptile Room (1999), The Wide Window (2000), The Miserable Mill (2000), The Austere Academy (2000), The Ersatz Elevator (2001), The Vile Village (2001), The Hostile Hospital (2001), The Carnivorous Carnival (2002), The Slippery Slope (2003), The Grim Grotto (2004), The Penultimate Peril (2005), and The End (2006).





Lastly, I look forward to savoring the recently published collections from two of my favorite poets, Mata Hari’s Lost Words by John Oughton (Seattle: Neopoiesis, 2017), and Ego to Earthschool by Stephen Roxborough (Seattle: Neopoiesis, 2017).


And that is that, at least until next year...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Summer Reading for Roy Part 1

So, for several years now, Roy Christopher has asked me to contribute to the Summer Reading List post on his blog, as one of a number of scholars and intellectuals who provide a list of books that we intend to read over the summer. And in the past I've reposted that list here on Blog Time Passing because, well, why not? Here now is a list of my previous entries:

And now, if you're chronologically minded, you may notice that there's no entry for 2016 on the above list. And the reason for that is not that I didn't do one, and if you don't believe me, you can check out Roy's post from last year, Summer Reading List, 2016. It's just that last summer I was hard at work finishing up my new book (see my previous post: Media Ecology: Some Details Regarding My New Book) and just didn't have time to do much blogging, and by the time I got back into the swing of things, summer was long over, and I just plain forgot about the summer reading list.

So, fortunately there's no statute of limitations on this sort of thing, so before sharing this year's list with you, let me fill you in on last year's summer reading list because, after all, the books are still worth listing, and reading.

Summer Reading List 2016

Here in New York, the Broadway musical Hamilton has been all the rage for the past year, so I have decided to start my summer reading off with The Federalist Papers, authored by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (New York: Signet Classics, 2003, originally published 1787-1788 under the pseudonym of Publius). While we're on the subject of authors with the initials A.H., my list also includes Ends and Means: An Inquiry Into the Nature of Ideals by Aldous Huxley (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2012, originally published 1937).


I recently received a copy of The Book of Radical General Semantics by Gad Horowitz with Colin Campbell (New Delhi: Pencraft International, 2016), and I would want to read it under any circumstance, but all the more so because I recently became president of the New York Society for General Semantics. I also plan on rereading Lewis Mumford's The Condition of Man (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1944). And I have heard great things about the recent book by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence (New York: Schocken Books, 2015), so that's on my list as well. 


For scholars in the field of communication and media studies, Arthur Asa Berger is a familiar name, having authored many books on media and popular culture, and I look forward to reading his newest, Writing Myself into Existence (Seattle: NeoPoiesis Pres, 2016). Regarding communication, I also have on my list Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age (New York: Penguin, 2015) by Sherry Turkle, a scholar often included in media ecology circles. And on the related topic of the study of time, I am also including Jeffrey Jerome Cohen's Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015). 


Poetry books play a prominent and pleasant role regarding summertime reading (and the rest of the year as well), and this year my stack includes a collection by David Ossman of Firesign Theatre, Marshmallows and Despair, (Seattle: NeoPoiesis Pres, 2015), and Rupi Kaur's Milk and Honey (Kansas City: Andrews McMeel, 2015). 


My son has recommended the work of playwright Jenny Schwartz, so I'm also including two of her plays, God's Ear (New York: Samuel French, 2009), and Somewhere Fun (London: Oberon, 2013). Finally, there's a mystery novel I just have to read, Death by Triangulation by John Oughton (Seattle: NeoPoiesis Pres, 2015). 


So, in case you were wondering, The Federalist Papers, Ends and Means, The Condition of Man, and Reclaiming Conversation, all played a role in the writing of my new book. And Stone was the subject of a book review I wrote for KronoScope, the official journal of the International Society for the Study of Time. 

And, now that I've taken care of last year's list, I'll get to this year's selections in my next post.