Excellent reading from the faculty and staff of SMU

Whether focused on jazz, South Seas adventure or a vampire-informed approach to theology, books published by members of the SMU community in 2011 cover such a smorgasbord of topics and interests that there’s bound to be something for even the pickiest reader on your holiday list.

Bright and Distant Shores By Cherri Gann
SMU News

Whether focused on jazz, South Seas adventure or a vampire-informed approach to theology, books published by members of the SMU community in 2011 cover such a smorgasbord of topics and interests that there’s bound to be something for even the pickiest readers.

Here's a sample of their writings from 2011:

Loving UMarshall Terry’s memoir Loving U: The Story of a Love Affair (And Some Lover’s Quarrels) With a University (DeGolyer Library, 2011) presents a unique perspective on major milestones and everyday details of University life in an affectionate narrative of his 60-year involvement with SMU as a student, professor and administrator. Available at the SMU Barnes & Noble bookstore, or through SMU’s DeGolyer Library.

SMU: Unbridled Vision commemorates nearly a century of the Hilltop in more than 200 stunning photographs of the SMU campus, historical photos and facts about SMU’s colorful history. It also features an essay on the University’s founding and quotes from SMU presidents through the years. Available at the SMU Barnes & Noble bookstore and at smu.edu/100.

LawtalkLawtalk: The Unknown Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions (Yale University Press, 2011) by SMU’s Elizabeth Thornburg, along with James E. Clapp, Marc Galanter and Fred Shapiro, explores the origins and uses of 77 popular and frequently colorful law-related expressions. For example, the expression “blue laws” was popularized by a Connecticut Anglican priest with an ax to grind, and “thin blue line” often used in law enforcement lingo is a reference to the British red coats. Based on solid scholarship, it’s written to be a fun read, Thornburg says. Available through Amazon.com

Bright and Distant Shores (Washington Square Press, 2011), by Dominic Smith, is a sweeping historical novel set amid the skyscrapers of 1890s Chicago and the far-flung islands of the South Pacific during the waning years of the 19th century. A Chicago insurance magnate sponsors an expedition into the South Seas to commemorate the completion of his company’s new skyscraper – the world’s tallest building. The expedition forces a collision course between the tribal and the civilized, and between two young men plagued by their pasts. Kirkus Reviews named it one of the “Best Books of 2011.” Available through Amazon.com

The Gospel According to Twilight - Women, Sex and God Elaine A. Heath’s The Gospel According to Twilight: Women, Sex and God (West Minster John Knox Press, 2011) examines the wildly popular fictional Twilight saga through both a feminist and a theological eye. Heath calls attention to both the “good news” of Twilight’s theology and the “bad news” of its gender stereotypes and depictions of violence against women. The book includes questions for youth and adult groups or for classroom discussions. Available through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

Exercise does make you feel better, and Exercise for Mood and Anxiety (Oxford University Press, 2011), by SMU’s Jasper Smits, along with Michael Otto, brings scientific proof. Experts on cognitive behavioral therapy, Otto and Smits provide readers with step-by-step guidance on starting and maintaining an exercise program geared toward improving mood, and introduces a broader philosophy for enhancing overall well-being. Available through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

SteplingsHaving dropped out of high school two months shy of graduation, the protagonist in C.W. Smith’s Steplings: A Novel (TCU Press, 2011) is quite a mess. In Smith’s ninth novel, 19-year-old Jason Sanborn is struggling as his friends and his girl prepare to leave for college and he looks for clues to his own life. But meeting his 11-year-old stepsister Emily and getting a “Dear John” letter from his girlfriend lead to big surprises as brother and stepsister head off on a revelatory trip to Austin. Available through Amazon.com.

Perkins School of Theology: A Centennial History (SMU Press, 2011) by Joseph L. Allen, SMU Press is a carefully researched and fully documented history of the first 100 years of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. Available through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

What Dreams Were Made of - Movie Stars of the 1940sWhat Dreams Were Made of: Movie Stars of the 1940s (Rutgers University Press, 2011) examines how the stars of the 1940s – including Humphrey Bogart, Abbott and Costello, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, John Wayne, Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable – helped define American cinema in a decade of upheaval for Hollywood and the United States. The essays in this collection, edited by SMU’s Sean Griffin, analyze how performers helped lift spirits during World War II, and explore how post-war cultural shifts forced many actors to adjust to new American attitudes. Available through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

Texas’ larger-than-life identity doesn’t come without challenges. Cal Jillson’s Lone Star Tarnished: A Critical Look at Texas Politics and Public Policy (Routledge Books, 2012) approaches public policy in the nation’s most populous “red state” from historical, comparative, and critical perspectives, delving deeply into the important areas in which state governments are active. Readers can assess for themselves Texas’s claims of exceptionalism. Release date is February 16, 2012. Pre-order at Amazon.com.

 Windfall - Wind Energy in America TodayRobert W. Righter examines the social and public-policy pros and cons of the fastest-growing alternative source of electricity in Windfall: Wind Energy in America Today, (University of Oklahoma Press, 2011). Righter writes about how wind offers hope for a partial solution to our energy problems by converting nature’s energy into electricity without exposing our planet and its inhabitants to the dangers of heat, pollution, toxicity, or depletion of irreplaceable natural resources. Available through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

Don’t Call Me Hero (Piñata Books, 2011) is the latest of SMU alumnus Ray Villareal’s four novels for teens. In this fast-paced tome, the life of main character Rawly Sanchez seems bleak as he struggles with algebra, and worries about his widowed mom’s Mexican restaurant on the brink of failure. And starting algebra tutoring classes on Saturdays will leave no time for visits to his incarcerated brother, Jaime. Rawly’s life changes, however, when a local news crew records him rescuing a famous model from a flooded creek. Available through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

Aiming at Maturity - The Goal of the Christian Life SMU Chaplain Stephen Rankin believes that growing to maturity in Christ is lacking in American Christianity, leaving serious consequences for the quality of witness and ministry. In Aiming at Maturity: The Goal of the Christian Life (Wipf and Stock, 2011) Rankin seeks to refocus the qualities of spiritual maturity, and addresses tendencies in popular Christian culture to reduce doctrinal truths to sound bites. Available from Wipf and Stock Publishers.

To the People of Texas: An Appeal (Clements Center for Southwest Studies and DeGolyer Library, 2011) is a manifesto written by Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, naval commander of the Texas Republic. Moore and Sam Houston, president of the republic and commander of its army, became mortal enemies – and the hatred that burned between them would fuel a 15-year war of charges, insults and invitations to duel. Available for purchase from SMU’s DeGolyer Library through the Clements Center for Southwest Studies.

TravelingFrom the journey of Abraham to the travels of Jesus and Paul, from medieval pilgrims to today’s global trekkers, travel has held deep religious significance. Joerg Rieger’s Traveling: Christian Explorations of Daily Living, (Fortress Press, 2011) offers historical and theological reflections on concrete ways in which travel can open up fresh encounters with meaning and, ultimately, the divine. Available through on-line sellers Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology (Smithsonian/Folkways, 2011), edited by SMU’s José Bowen and other artists, traces the turning points in the genre’s history through its legendary innovators – from Armstrong and Ellington, to Corea and Marsalis – and covers notable styles from early ragtime to international modernism and every major movement in between. More than 100 tracks showcase artists at their best and most influential. The accompanying book features an informative background essay as well as suggestions for listeners on appreciating the full richness of the performances. Available through on-line sellers Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

In Honor of the MustangsThe first comprehensive history of SMU athletics, In Honor of the Mustangs, (DeGolyer Library, 2011), showcases exploits on the gridiron, from the football team’s infamous 146-3 defeat by the Rice Owls in 1916 to its 45-10 victory over Nevada in the 2009 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. Author Darwin Payne also highlights achievements in swimming, basketball, volleyball, track and field, cross country, tennis, baseball and equestrian competition in the 400-page book. Available for purchase from SMU’s DeGolyer Library at smu.edu/cul/degolyer, click on the link for the book. Or call 214-768-0829.

Since 1916, when the first woman was elected to the U.S. Congress, fewer than 10 percent of all members have been women. In Women and Congressional Elections: A Century of Change (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2012) SMU’s Dennis Simon, along with Barbara Palmer, combine a rich analytical narrative, data on nearly 40,000 candidates, and colorful stories from the campaign. The authors show how the “rules of the game,” as well as demographic characteristics, can make a district more or less friendly to women candidates. Release date is May 2012. Available for pre-order at Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Living Consciousness - The Metaphysical Vision of Henri BergsonLiving Consciousness: The Metaphysical Vision of Henri Bergson (SUNY Press, 2011) by G. William Barnard explores the thoughts of French philosopher Henri Bergson highlighting his theories on the nature of consciousness and its relationship to the physical world. Barnard shows how the late philosopher’s thoughts remain strikingly relevant to contemporary fields such as quantum physics, and process thought to philosophy of mind, depth psychology, transpersonal theory and religious studies. Available through on-line sellers Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

Julie Chelagat Bore’s Voices (AuthorHouse, 2011) chronicles the troubled experiences of several urban high school teenagers who have learning, intellectual and other disabilities and disadvantages. Among the situations profiled include teen pregnancy, homelessness, drug addiction, suicide, emotional disturbance and gender identity. Bore found the students’ stories inspirational, saying they reignited her hope in the plight of troubled youth. Available through on-line sellers Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

For those who missed them, and for those who want to re-experience this year’s Meadows Museum art exhibits, four catalogues offer luscious photographs and fascinating back stories:

  • The Lost Manuscripts from the Sistine ChapelFor history buffs, The Lost Manuscripts from the Sistine Chapel: An Epic Journey from Rome to Toledo, tells the story of how Spanish Archbishop of Toledo Cardinal Francisco Antonio de Lorenzana y Buitron (1722- 1804) heroically rescued a set of 40 beautifully illuminated codices from Napoleon’s looters, spiriting them away from the Sistine Chapel to his native Spain for safekeeping.
  • Modern art lovers will appreciate Concrete Improvisations:  Collages and Sculpture by Esteban Vicente.  The Spanish-born painter, collagist and sculptor Esteban Vicente (1903-2001) is one of Abstract Expressionism’s most independent-minded artists, and yet still among its most neglected figures. This work provides a major reassessment of Vicente’s career, focusing on his collages and assemblage-like sculptures.
  • Echoes of the Past - The Buddhist Cave Temples of XiangtangshanEchoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan is the first non-Western exhibition ever mounted by the Meadows Museum, and the catalogue provides a fascinating look at the amazing technology used to connect these beautiful 6th-century sculptures with their original cave settings on the other side of the globe.
  • The second loan stemming from the Museo Nacional del Prado’s historic agreement with the Meadows Museum inspired Jusepe de Ribera’s Mary Magdalene in a New Context: The Prado at the Meadows, Vol. 2Spanish art enthusiasts will be surprised to learn that Ribera, famous for his realistic depictions of grizzled hermits, also had a talent for painting lovely female saints.

All catalogues are available in the Meadows Museum gift shop. For ordering information, send an e-mail to museumshop@smu.edu.