Fresh ink

A selection of recent books by UChicago faculty members.

A Theology of Brotherhood: The Federal Council of Churches and the Problem of Race

By Curtis J. Evans, Associate Professor of American Religions and the History of Christianity in the Divinity School and the College

In the early 20th century, the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America played an active role in disseminating progressive views on race. Emphasizing equality and the Christian notion of “universal brotherhood,” the predominantly White organization advocated for integration and led an antilynching campaign. Its civil rights work is often overlooked, however, as historical accounts tend to focus on the antiracism achievements of secular organizations like the NAACP. Drawing on extensive archival research, Curtis J. Evans sheds light on the FCC’s impact on race relations, especially among White Protestant churches.

Grow and Hide: The History of America’s Health Care State

By Colleen M. Grogan, Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor in the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice

The US government funds a large share of our health care system, and support of health care at the local, state, and federal levels steadily increased through both liberal and conservative governments during the 20th century. However, public and private actors have built a narrative to the contrary, a phenomenon that Colleen M. Grogan terms “grow and hide.” Public officials have an incentive to hide the extent of public health care spending: conservatives, to retain the support of their base, and liberals, to dissuade opposition to their efforts. Private actors, like hospitals, are also incentivized to hide the extent of government subsidies and to blame financial shortcomings on the government. As this cycle has repeated, the US health care system has become increasingly fragmented and unequal. But before we can improve this system, Grogan suggests, we must change how we talk about it.

Horizons Blossom, Borders Vanish: Anarchism and Yiddish Literature

By Anna Elena Torres, Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the College

In the face of state-sponsored surveillance, censorship, and deportation, 20th-century Yiddish writers and editors developed a tradition of anarchist literature. Anna Elena Torres examines Yiddish poetry, translation, and journalism from the 1880s to the present to show how authors have used the diasporic language to develop new forms of literary expression and to explore ideas of transnationalism and statelessness. The book brings together late-19th-century Russian immigrants in the United States and England, modernists in New York and Chicago in the 1910s, expressionists and avant-garde poets in 1920s and ’30s Warsaw and Moscow, and radical editors in Tel Aviv in the ’70s and ’80s. A final reflection on contemporary American composer and ethnomusicologist Jewlia Eisenberg traces the continuing legacy of Yiddish anarchist thought and art. Torres’s recovery of Yiddish anarchism adds a new dimension to the study of Jewish literature.

Radical Formalisms: Reading, Theory, and the Boundaries of the Classical

Coedited by Sarah Nooter, Professor in the Department of Classics and the College

How does an ancient poem come alive when we focus intensely on a repeated sound? What archetypes from ancient literature are recycled in today’s literature? What can we learn by rereading classical Greek and Roman texts alongside visual art by contemporary Black artists? These are a few of the questions a new anthology on classical literature, coedited by Sarah Nooter, seeks to answer. Approaching well-trodden texts with an eye to form—structure, motifs, patterns—the scholars behind Radical Formalisms engage in bold, speculative, and often intimate readings that open up new interpretive possibilities. Amid an ongoing reassessment of the place of the humanities, and the field of classics in particular, this anthology makes a case for engaging with Greek and Roman literature in new ways.