A selection of books, films, and recordings by UChicago alumni.

Degrees of Difficulty

Julie E. Justicz, JD’88

Civil rights attorney Julie Justicz’s debut novel is the story of an Atlanta family overwhelmed by caring for son and brother Ben, a teenager with a severe disability who has trouble staying welcome at care facilities. Each family member finds a way to cope; Ben’s mother, a Shakespeare scholar, escapes into research and starts self-medicating. Though older brother Hugo seems uniquely capable of reaching Ben, he ends up making a decision that could destroy the family.

Black Baseball, 1858–1900: A Comprehensive Record of the Teams, Players, Managers, Owners, and Umpires

James E. Brunson III, AM’95, PhD’06

A project more than 30 years in the making, baseball researcher and Northern Illinois University art historian James E. Brunson III’s three-volume sourcebook documents the beginnings of organized black baseball and its role in late 19th-century black cultural life. Teams like the Utica Fearless, the Chicago Uniques, and the Mobile Saucy Boys had their origins in clubs formed by barbers, hotel waiters, and other workers. The game they played became more than a professional sport, Brunson suggests. It formed an integral part of America’s nascent entertainment industry, with ties to popular music, theater, and visual culture.

Game Day

John Susman, AB’81, AM’82, MBA’94

Playwright and screenwriter John Susman’s first feature film is a dramatic comedy about a woman in the tech industry who realizes that being great at her job will only get her so far—breaking through requires joining the company’s all-male basketball team. She meets a teenager, played by rapper Romeo Miller, who teaches her the game. What they learn from each other alters their lives. Filmed in Hyde Park and elsewhere in Chicago, Game Day hit theaters nationwide in October.

Judge Thy Neighbor: Denunciations in the Spanish Inquisition, Romanov Russia, and Nazi Germany

Patrick Bergemann, AB’04

Denunciation is as old as Judas Iscariot and as modern as the US Department of Homeland Security’s “If you see something, say something” campaign, argues Patrick Bergemann, an assistant professor of organizations and strategy at Chicago Booth. Bergemann, who has degrees in economics and sociology, sets out to understand the behavior of denouncing, known variously, he notes, as “ratting, tattling, squealing, whistle-blowing, snitching.” Denunciation benefits authorities by giving them information about acts they want to punish or deter. But driving any denunciation, Bergemann finds, is what reporting another person will do for the denouncer.


Colin Bishopp, AM’04

Before her mother will agree to get her the puppy she wants, Mary-Alice has to visit the dentist. His office is in a gothic-looking Victorian mansion, and their appointment is at midnight. Mary-Alice’s “snaggletooth” is not the only thing that’s irregular here. Filmed in San Francisco’s legendary, purportedly haunted William Westerfield House, and featuring a dentist’s assistant who shares a name with the German director of the silent classic Nosferatu, moviemaker and clean-energy advocate Colin Bishopp’s short film knows its antecedents and how to tell a story through atmosphere. It drew praise from critics after its screening at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

A Living Tradition: Selections from Folk-Legacy Records

Caroline Paton, AB’56

Late singer and song collector Caroline Paton cofounded Folk-Legacy Records in 1961 with her husband, Sandy, and a friend from Chicago, Lee Haggerty. Amid the folk revival, they avoided pop adaptations of folk songs and went to the sources themselves. Folk-Legacy’s earliest releases were field recordings of traditional performers fro the United States and the British Isles; later albums spotlighted artists who, like the Patons themselves, were learned interpreters of the old songs. This compilation from the Folk-Legacy catalog, acquired by the Smithsonian Institution shortly before Caroline died in March (see Deaths, Summer/19), features both kinds of material, including the Appalachian music of Frank Proffitt and a cut by Sandy and Caroline.