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Book Marks

Understanding Climate Change. In the Midwest, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and even snowstorms literally come with the territory. But Understanding Climate Change, edited by S. C. Pryor and published by Indiana University Press, explains what those seasonal extremes mean through in-depth analysis of climate change. This new, accessible book comes to explain the topic as much more than just a buzzword. By closely following and carefully assessing the region's climate change, variability and predictability during the past century, the authors of the book draw conclusions for what the next 100 years might hold for America's heartland. The high-quality graphics and comprehensive bibliography will offer graduate students, meteorologists, and climatologists a meaningful understanding of the effect of climate change on the Midwest. Pryor is professor of Atmospheric Science and director of graduate studies in the Department of Geography at Indiana University Bloomington. She currently chairs the Midwest Assessment Group for Investigations of Climate (MAGIC).

Latin American Melodrama

Latin American Melodrama. Like their Hollywood counterparts, Latin American films and television melodramas have always been popular and highly profitable.However, during an evening discussion about favorite Latin American features with a colleague at a conference of film scholars in 2005, IU professor Darlene Sadlier realized how little had been written about them. "The lively conversation made me realize how very little material in English existed concerning Latin American melodrama, even well-known movies made in the 1940s in Mexico, the country that has received the majority of scholarly attention on the subject," said Sadlier, a professor of Spanish and Portuguese. Her subsequent efforts resulted in a new anthology, Latin American Melodrama: Passion, Pathos, and Entertainment (University of Illinois Press, 2009), which she edited and to which she contributed an introduction. The book features chapters from some of the major figures in Latin American film scholarship and covers 70 years of movies and television within a transnational context, focusing specifically on the period known as the "Golden Age" of melodrama. "The term melodrama has somewhat broader implications in countries such as Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, where it refers not only to domestic dramas but also to historical epics in which family life is viewed in relation to national issues," she wrote in the book's introduction. "The history of the form is rich, and its complexity is evident in essays collected in this book … Taken together, they give us a sense of melodrama's range and variety and help us understand why it has been the most durable form of popular art in the Latin American cinema." Sadlier also is the author of Nelson Pereira dos Santos (University of Illinois Press, 2003) and Brazil Imagined: 1500 to the Present (University of Texas Press, 2008).

Strengthening Congress. With the benefit of an insider's perspective, distinguished former Indiana congressman Lee H. Hamilton argues that America needs a stronger Congress and a more engaged citizenry in order to ensure responsive and effective democracy. In Strengthening Congress, published in paperback by Indiana University Press, Hamilton explains how Congress has drifted away from the role envisioned for it in the Constitution as a body whose power and influence would be pre-eminent in the American system of government. He details the steps that Congress should take to re-establish its parity with the executive branch and become an institution that works reliably and effectively for the betterment of the nation -- reinforce congressional oversight, restore the deliberative process, curb the influence of lobbyists, and reduce excessive partisanship. Concurrently, Hamilton calls upon Americans to take more seriously their obligations and responsibilities as citizens and engage with the critical issues facing their communities and the nation. Hamilton served Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 to 1999 and has remained active in public affairs, serving as co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission. Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University Bloomington and president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is author of How Congress Works and Why You Should Care (IU Press, 2004).

"Jewish Public Culture"

Jewish Public Culture in the Late Russian Empire. Indiana University scholar Jeffrey Veidlinger examines the flowering of Jewish secular culture in the last years of tsarist rule in this Indiana University Press book. In the midst of violent, revolutionary turmoil, he writes, many Jews came to reject what they regarded as the apocalyptic and utopian prophecies of political dreamers and religious fanatics, preferring instead to focus on the promotion of cultural development in the present. Jewish Public Culture in the Late Russian Empire examines the cultural identities that Jews were creating and disseminating through voluntary associations such as libraries, drama circles, literary clubs, historical societies, and even fire brigades. Veidlinger explores the venues in which prominent cultural figures -- including Sholem Aleichem, Mendele Moykher Sforim, and Simon Dubnov -- interacted with the general Jewish public, encouraging Jewish expression within Russia's multicultural society. By highlighting the cultural experiences shared by Jews of diverse social backgrounds -- from seamstresses to parliamentarians -- and in disparate geographic locales -- from Ukrainian shtetls to Polish metropolises -- the book revises traditional views of Jewish society in the late Russian Empire. Veidlinger is associate professor of history, Alvin H. Rosenfeld Chair in Jewish Studies, and associate director of the Borns Jewish Studies Program at IU Bloomington. He is author of The Moscow State Yiddish Theater: Jewish Culture on the Soviet Stage (IUP, 2001) and co-director of the Archive of Historical and Ethnographic Yiddish Memories.

A memoir of New Orleans' past. Haunted by a colonial past associated with African presence, racial mixing and suspect rituals, New Orleans has served the national imagery as a place of exoticism. The destructive power of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath revealed the city's deep poverty and marginalized population, as well as a media storm that perpetuated its stigma. In Travels With Mae: Scenes from a New Orleans Girlhood (Indiana University Press, 2009), Eileen Julien lovingly restores the wonder of a great American city, capturing its beauty and its pain through the eyes of an insider. Julien, IU chair and professor of comparative literature, professor of French and Italian and director of the Project on African Expressive Traditions, traces her life as a middle-class black woman growing up in New Orleans in the 1950s and 1960s. Her series of vignettes -- including "Fudge and Jelly Donuts," "Daddy's Gumbo," "Man from the South," and "The Carnival Spirit" -- focus on her family relationships, as well as those in her community and the city itself. As part of Julien's return to the distinctive culture of her birthplace, she also is a co-founder of the New Orléans Afrikan Film & Arts Festival, which hosts filmmakers at screenings of international, domestic and local films in diverse New Orleans neighborhoods.