The Magazine lists a selection of general interest books, films, and albums by alumni. For additional alumni releases, browse the Magazine’s Goodreads bookshelf.

Befriending the Commedia dell’Arte of Flaminio Scala: The Comic Scenarios

Natalie Crohn Schmitt, AB’58, AM’61

Chicago’s Second City is over 50 years old, but the birth of improvisation comedy dates back to at least the 16th century. The commedia dell’arte was one of the most important theatrical movements in early modern Europe, inspiring artists including Molière, Picasso, and Stravinsky. Yet, much like contemporary improv, the genre is widely viewed as superficial. Natalie Crohn Schmitt debunks this perception, using the work of Flaminio Scala to illustrate the commedia dell’arte’s rich craftsmanship and social commentary.

Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation

Linda A. Hill, AM’79, PhD’82

How do some organizations innovate over and over again, while most can’t even start? The authors spent the past nine years exploring this question, talking with exceptional leaders of innovation across the globe, in industries ranging from filmmaking to e-commerce. Collective Genius distills their findings. The book provides a practical tool for leaders seeking to build and sustain a culture of innovation throughout their organizations. Spoiler alert: It ain’t easy. But it is worth the effort.

Illusions of a Future: Psychoanalysis and the Biopolitics of Desire

Kate Schechter, AM’88, AM’96, AM’02, PhD’10

A growing number of people turn to medication to treat mental health issues, rather than focusing only on therapy. That’s one big reason, Kate Schechter argues, why the field of psychoanalysis is in a state of crisis. Taking an in-depth look at practices in Chicago, Schechter examines the evolution of the analyst-patient relationship and the future of psychoanalysis in a world increasingly dominated by standardized approaches to mental health.

Love Letters to the Dead

Ava Dellaira, AB’06

In her emotional debut novel, Ava Dellaira explores the cathartic power of writing. Protagonist Laurel, gutted by the recent passing of her older sister, May, found comfort in writing to Kurt Cobain as part of a freshman writing assignment—so she kept going and wrote to Janis Joplin, Amelia Earhart, River Phoenix, and many other departed figures. The letters helped Laurel unpack her feelings for May and develop a deeper understanding of her late sister, shortcomings and all.

Photographic Theory: An Historical Anthology

Andrew E. Hershberger, AM’96

Winner of a 2015 Insight Award from the Society for Photographic Education, Photographic Theory presents a collection of readings about the history, nature, and evolution of debates in photography. Editor Andrew E. Hershberger offers an authoritative and up-to-date compendium, including a thorough look at recent trends in digital photography. His is the only collection to include ancient; Renaissance; and 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century writings on photographic theory.

Republican Theology: The Civil Religion of American Evangelicals

Benjamin T. Lynerd, AM’00, PhD’09

Benjamin Lynerd’s first book, penned during a postdoctoral fellowship with the Benjamin Franklin Project at the Illinois Institute of Technology, examines the political role of white evangelicals from a historical and theological perspective. Republican Theology centers on the paradox of this group’s outspoken support for limited government—except on issues relating to personal morality. Lynerd concludes with an analysis of why this paradoxical worldview is so “irresistible” to white evangelicals.

What I Found Out About Her: Stories of Dreaming Americans

Peter LaSalle, AM’72

In this collection of 11 stories, Peter LaSalle explores the everyday lives of protagonists including a college student studying in Paris, a Hollywood screenwriter, and a disillusioned FBI agent. Despite their diverse backgrounds and situations, each character senses his or her life taking on the surreal texture of a haunting dream. For LaSalle, this “old reality/unreality conundrum … pretty much defines what can be the true experience of our time on this planet.”