The Magazine lists a selection of general interest books, films, and albums by alumni. For additional alumni releases, browse the Magazine’s Goodreads bookshelf.
The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant
Jean M. Twenge, AB’93, AM’93
When she wanted to have a baby, psychologist Jean Twenge did her research, analyzing scientific data from medical journals, books, and websites. She found that the scientific data available for public consumption was often wrong or from a questionable source—for example, the most commonly cited statistic about fertility among women over 35 came from 17th-century French birth records. Twenge dismisses common myths and provides advice on the best time of the month to try to get pregnant, the best prenatal diets, and at what point to consider fertility treatment.
Cecelia and Fanny: The Remarkable Friendship Between an Escaped Slave and Her Former Mistress
Brad Asher, AM’91, PhD’96
Fifteen-year-old slave Cecilia from Louisville, Kentucky, escaped to Canada in 1846. Separation from her enslaved mother and brother led her to begin a correspondence with Fanny, her former mistress, that lasted several decades. Brad Asher’s book draws on letters from the former slave owner to the escaped slave, exploring race relations in mid-19th century Kentucky. Asher, an independent scholar, details the cultural roles assigned to the two women and offers a glimpse into urban slavery and life in 19th-century America.
Overcoming America/America Overcoming: Can We Survive Modernity?
Stephen C. Rowe, ThM’69, AM’70, PhD’74
Grand Valley State University philosophy professor Stephen Rowe wrote this book, he says, as a patriotic duty, in response to the challenges America faces. Including a foreword by Divinity School professor emeritus Martin Marty, PhD’56, the book is not a doctrine about how to get the country back on track. Instead Rowe suggests that America is at a tipping point: the country will either be overcome by multifaceted, ideological battles—perhaps corporate greed or immigration—or it will overcome these battles and return to the tradition of democratic deliberation.
Knowing Nature: Art and Science in Philadelphia, 1740–1840
Amy R. W. Meyers, AB’77
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, an active scientific community in Philadelphia fostered a group of naturalist-artists including John James Audubon. Amy Meyers, director of the Yale Center for British Art, has edited an illustrated coffee-table book of essays that demonstrate how the study of nature stimulated artistic production. These naturalist-artists created environments and objects associated with scientific practice, such as botanic gardens and natural-history illustrations, but also art separate from science—textiles and garments, for example, or architectural structures—inspired by scientific interpretations of the natural world.
The Jewish Dark Continent: Life and Death in the Russian Pale of Settlement
Nathaniel Deutsch, AB’88, AM’89, PhD’95
In 1912 Ansky, a Russian Jewish ethnographer, set out to document the lives of the Jews of the Pale, a territory in imperial Russia where Jews had been required to live and work for more than a century. At the time, this population comprised 40 percent of the world’s Jews, but their way of life was relatively unknown. Ansky wrote a detailed questionnaire to document this vibrant community that disappeared soon after World War I. Ansky’s project was interrupted by the war and never completed. In this book Nathaniel Deutsch, a professor of literature and history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, translates the 2,087-item questionnaire from the Yiddish and documents Ansky’s efforts to carry out his project.
Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful
Daniel S. Hamermesh, AB’65
Are the nonbeautiful a disadvantaged group in society? Daniel Hamermesh, an economist at the University of Texas at Austin, measures the economic advantages of beauty around the world. The attractive, he argues, are more likely to be employed, receive more substantial pay, and even negotiate loans with better terms. Hamermesh also explores the possible policy implications for those considered less attractive.
Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality
Margot Weiss, AB’95
In this ethnography of the San Francisco Bay Area’s pansexual BDSM—also known as SM—community, Wesleyan anthropologist Margot Weiss follows more than 60 participants through dungeon-play parties and at flogging workshops. The community, open to people of all genders and sexualities, is not inherently a “safe space,” Weiss argues. Acts the community performs, which include heterosexual male domination and slave auctions, in fact reproduce and sensationalize real-world gender and racial inequalities.