Elevate Difference


Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories

Historiography and corporeality have challenged queer theorists, or perhaps more accurately, have been fiercely challenged by queer theorists. From deconstructive viewpoints that question physicality as such, to radical disavowals of any belonging to historical legacies, the transcendental tendencies of queer thought have not come without their casualties. In her most recent addition to the burgeoning queer theory bookshelves, Elizabeth Freeman tackles both historiography and corporeality head on.

How Cancer Crossed the Color Line

Cancer—a disease signifying White civilization? A disease of the domesticated female? An indifferent, “democratic disease”? Or, a targeted attack on specific racial and ethnic communities? These varying assertions and many more have populated America’s cancer discourse over the last century, fading in and out as the dominant way to comprehend the disease’s victimization.

Stitch ‘N Bitch Superstar Knitting: Go Beyond the Basics

I have a confession to make: I am not much of a knitter. I feel like I should be, and I’ve tried to get beyond the basics numerous times in my life, but to little avail. My mom was a fantastic knitter. She inspired me to try it as a child, but I never quite got the hang of it. I focused instead on cross-stitch and other needlework and yarn crafts, as well as other art and craft forms more generally. Maybe the knitting talent skipped a generation.

Old Photographs

Old Photographs by Sherie Posesorski is the story of Phoebe Hecht, a teenage girl who is struggling through most boring summer of her life. Originally from the small town of Barrie, Phoebe moved to Toronto about a year ago when her mother married Greg, a very rich, very serious doctor. While her mother is excited about all the changes in their life, Phoebe is less than thrilled.

Connected: The Suprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives — How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do

Connected is firstly an enjoyable read. There is something compelling about seeing the familiar, mundane details of our every day social life studied from a completely different perspective. Social networks are huge and for the most part we have no idea where we fit into them or just how far they reach. In a way this is Christakis and Fowler's point. What most of us think of as our social network are the people we know and see on a regular basis.

Irish Pages: The Sea

Also known as Duillí Éireann, Irish Pages is a bilingual, biannual journal edited in Belfast. The journal was started in 2002 with the mission of publishing “in equal measure, writing from Ireland and overseas.” Each issue is themed and "The Sea" is filled with a blend of literary journalism, nature-writing, memoir, short fiction, poetry, and other features like photography and notes from the publishing world.

Where Do Birds Live?

There are few things in life better than large, hardcover, richly-illustrated children’s books. As a child, these were the books I most often pulled from the library shelves. Beautiful visuals invite the eye to stay for a while, while skilled writing engages and challenges the mind.

Scandalous Politics: Child Welfare Policy in the States

Sixteen-month-old Amiya Brown died due to blunt force. Thirteen-month-old Christopher Thomas died and his two year-old sister. All under the auspices of child welfare. These and many other horrifying stories are the touchstones of Scandalous Politics: Child Welfare Policy in the States. A series of similar vignettes open the book with a jolt.

I'm a Registered Nurse, Not a Whore

My grandmother was a nurse. She's retired now, but I remember how she used to chastise her grandchildren, scolding us about washing our hands, eating certain foods, and getting exercise. Above all, she was straightforward about our bodies.

Twenty-first Century Motherhood: Experience, Identity, Policy, Agency

Motherhood is often a topic of confusion or contention among feminists. The process of birthing demonstrates just how awesome and powerful women’s bodies are. However, the institution of motherhood is constructed in ways that oppress women and privilege certain classes, races, and sexualities.

Tolerant Oppression: Why Promoting Tolerance Undermines Our Quest for Equality and What We Should Do Instead

On the surface, tolerance seems like an innocuous concept. We’ve heard it before in relation to diversity, acceptance, and other key words that denote something positive. However, a deeper look into the idea reveals a mess of conflicting messages and confusion. For those who have never considered the concept of tolerance from this perspective before, Dr. Scott Hampton provides a handbook of sorts that critically assesses tolerance.

Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters

Everyone knows about the tragic life of bombshell Marilyn Monroe, whose nickname “Miss Golden Dreams” would indicate nothing of how brief her existence would be. At thirty-six, the “orphan” with a mentally damaged mother and no father to call her own was found naked and dead in her Los Angeles home, apparently from suicide. With three divorces, several miscarriages, and plenty of roles depicting her as a dumb blonde, not even Monroe’s celebrated curves, sapphire blue eyes, or perfectly heart-shaped face were enough to keep her smiling. No fame or money could save the starlet with the little girl voice from the many demons that haunted her.

Sonata Mulattica

Rita Dove’s poetry is seductive. Her narrative verse reels you in because it’s like reading a page-turner of a novel that suddenly immerses you in her beautifully recreated world. It is always a world she has taken the time to carefully research. In 1986’s Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas and Beulah Dove’s subject was the adventurous and bittersweet epic lives of her grandparents, who survived and loved through the Great Depression and into the Jim Crow era in Akron, Ohio.

Firebrands: Portraits from the Americas

I was initially unimpressed by Firebrands, but that was because I approached it wrong. I tried to sit down in my living room and read it cover-to-cover, and that's not what this book is for.

Going to Extremes: How Like Minds Unite and Divide

If eras, like essays, had main topics, the main topic of our era would be extremism. For the past nine years, there has been no escape from various extremisms. Both foreign and domestic, left and right, alien and all-too-familiar, these extremisms have been the topic of the week virtually every week since... Well, I guess I don’t need to tell you since when, do I? It would be difficult to offer any fresh perspective on the topic. After all, haven’t we heard it all by now?

Goddess Durga and Sacred Female Power

Author Laura Amazzone offers her own intimate experiences (including the most painful ones) and personal growth in a book that is richly dense with information and observation. Goddess Durga and Sacred Female Power encompasses spirituality, mythology, feminism, history, travel, and philosophy. Nearly every paragraph made me set the book down to consider or visualize ideas. In a very tight nutshell: Amazzone delves into the multicultural history and symbolism of this incarnation of the Goddess, offering a model of spirituality and feminism to a world that greatly needs it.

My Sisters Made of Light

When I attended the book signing for Jacqueline St. Joan’s novel My Sisters Made of Light, I knew nothing about the book aside from its inspiration: a chance encounter between St. Joan, an American domestic violence activist, and Aisha, a Pakistani activist. St. Joan was moved by a shared sense of purpose to write Aisha’s story—the story of a teacher who has orchestrated secret efforts to rescue women condemned to death for so-called honor crimes in Pakistan for the past twenty-five years.

Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness, and a Global Race Consciousness

If the Asian American contribution to hip-hop has been largely invisible, South Asian American rap artists, here including those whose families came from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Fiji, have received a surprising amount of critical attention focused on re-conceptualizing race and the increasingly universal appeal of contemporary Black popular culture. On the heels of Ajay Nair and Murali Balaji’s 2009 study Desi Rap: Hip Hop and South Asian America comes Hip Hop Desis , an ethnographic analysis of a group of South Asian American rappers and the shared experience of those living in “racially marked bodies.”

Red Willow People

Imagine evening as a woman, wind as a friend, and every part of nature as an organ in the human body. You have now entered the landscape of Devreaux Baker’s newest collection of poetry, Red Willow People. The colors are red, white, yellow and the green shade of clay. The light is supplied by lines from poetry by Federico Garcia Lorca. The smell is sage, cedar, and pinyon pine. These poems are the story of a region, specifically Taos and the Southwestern area of the United States. They are also the story of a people, all the different clans of the Navajo (Dine’). The collection captures the essence of both the region and the people while exploring the universal themes of transformation and rebirth.

Why Study Talmud in the Twenty-first Century?: The Relevance of the Ancient Jewish Text to Our World

Lending a somewhat contrarian voice to this collection of essays extolling the virtues of Talmud study, the rabbi Dr. Pinchas Hayman takes umbrage at the question Paul Socken poses in the book’s title: “Why should the indescribable depth, beauty, and challenge of authentic Jewish literature require apologetic essays?” He concludes with his own “more relevant” and “far more difficult” question: “Who needs the twenty-first century if one learns Talmud?”

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth

My ten-year-old son, Elliott, has several distinct laughs in his repertoire, each precisely tuned to the subtleties of the situation. An under-the-breath snicker connotes mild amusement, like the punchline to a Laffy Taffy joke; a nasal, high-pitched giggle is a response to inspired silliness, like a Calvin & Hobbes comic strip; a deep, hiccuping guffaw from his lower belly signifies his highest level of appreciation, and is usually reserved for gags involving bodily functions. I heard all three laughs, and a few new ones, in the sixty minutes it took him to devour Jeff Kinney's The Ugly Truth, the fifth installment in his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry

Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry is a collection of short stories by Christine Sneed, the winner of the Grace Paley Prize in short fiction. The book is one of the most well-written, heartrending, and remarkably real collections I've ever read. Nothing is left to do after reading Sneed's collection except go back to read the same stories over again for their raw, hard, and gritty overwhelming of the senses.

Unequal Desires: Race and Erotic Capital in the Stripping Industry

Racial inequality in the workforce seems sadly obvious, but something I had never before thought of was racial inequality in sex work. Logically, it makes sense that this brand of inequity would carry through to the sex industry, but it feels wrong somehow that anyone would be vying for a better position in sex work. As a feminist, empowerment in sex work has always fascinated me.

Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics

Herding Donkeys is a tense 223-page documentation of the last eight years in American politics. In it, Ari Berman doesn’t argue that the Democratic Party needs to change its ways so much as tell how it’s been done. Finally.

Each and Her

It can be easy and convenient to forget facts learned and impressions made about our southern neighbor, Mexico. Because I like to think of myself as conscious and conscientious of both international news and poetry, I was surprised by my recent discovery of Each and Her by Valerie Martínez. A widely anthologized poet and former poet laureate of Santa Fe, Martínez has been recognized for a career’s worth of community outreach and education, and even for translating Uruguayan poetry.

Tales from the Yoga Studio

Tales from the Yoga Studio is, in many ways, the typical story of White women who discover Eastern philosophy (in this case, yoga) and learn how to breathe deeply. Though the women weren’t all from White, upper class society (there was a token Latina and some women who couldn’t afford the yoga class), it essentially contains the trials and tribulations of upper class Angelenos: Which yoga studio to go to today? What to wear to yoga class?

The Way It Is

Donalda Reid is gutsy to take on heavy racial undertones in her first novel They Way It Is. The story is historical fiction; although, aside from the creation of the main characters, this young adult book is more history than fiction.

Our Earth: How Kids are Saving the Planet

Warm colours cover this book of global children’s experiences of how they are changing the world. Janet Wilson’s Our Earth is a brightly illustrated compact collection worth reading. The core message is simple: all people need to come together to heal the Earth.

Self-Liberation: Through Seeing with Naked Awareness

Self-Liberation is a new translation of a Buddhist text said to have been hidden for generations by its creator, Guru Padmasambhava, in order to ensure that it was not uncovered until such time as Tibetans were mentally prepared for it.

The Vintage Book of American Women Writers

Anyone who has taken their share of English literature survey courses will tell you that the women considered great enough to be included within the literary canon are few to be found, as women writers have been marginalized throughout history. Even today, the title “great American novelist” is one that has yet to be bestowed upon a woman, and many women writers whose work has literary significance find their work disregarded as "chick lit." The Vintage Book of American Women Writers helps to give women their due. The 848-page book traces the history of women writers in America, beginning with Anne Bradford, the first woman to be published in Puritan America, and ending with such contemporary writers as Amy Tan and Jhumpa Lahiri.