If you’re feeling a little cooped up at home this summer, try escaping with a good book—with some help from University of Chicago faculty. This year’s Quantrell and Graduate Teaching award winners have a dozen recommendations, ranging from post-apocalyptic fiction, to 17th-century memoir, to analysis of the implications of big data.
David Archer, Professor of Geophysical Sciences and the College
“I’m going to go dark with a twofer, a nonfiction and a fiction pair. Nonfiction: Collapse by Jared Diamond; fiction: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Together, as a pair, they are a meditation on the fragility of the human enterprise.”
Elizabeth Asmis, Professor of Classics and the College
“Read, or re-read, Moby Dick. I did not myself appreciate what is so great about this classic until I actually went back to read the whole of it after seeing a fabulous new opera (by Jake Heggie) that is based on it. It opened up biological nature to me in a new way, as well as (of course) human nature. It is absolutely amazing how it pulls together diverse strands of human experience. I also recommend reading some ancient Greek plays, which have not been much performed in recent years, but are surprisingly accessible to a modern reader.”
Susan Gal, the Mae and Sidney G. Metzl Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology, Linguistics, and the College
“Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History by Michel-Rolph Trouillot—an anthropologist who was also a historian—is already 25 years old, yet astonishingly timely, discussing the way the West failed to acknowledge the most successful slave revolt in history (in Haiti in the 18th century). Placing that erasure next to Holocaust denial and controversies about the Alamo and statues of Columbus in the U.S., Trouillot speaks to the most immediate and wrenching issues of our own time in a scholarly way that is both rigorous and personal and beautifully written.”
“Kathryn Woolard’s Singular and Plural: Linguistic Authority in 21st Century Catalonia is equally accessible and scholarly, but more recent. This describes in vivid detail how the young people of Catalonia (in Spain) think and feel about the Spanish and Catalan languages; how these feelings become a tense politics that speaks back to right-wing oppression from Madrid. The book has the depth and passion reflecting Woolard's 40 years of ethnographic fieldwork in Barcelona.”