Communications professor Vince Petronio is reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. This biography chronicles the life of Jobs not only as a perfectionist, but a person - as not just an imagineer, but a man. Based off a slew of interviews from friends, family, colleagues and competing companies, Steve Jobs paints Apple’s CEO with a blunt brush and manages to humanize the man once referred to as the “Father of the Digital Revolution.”
Professor Petronio is also reading Persona Non Grata: A Novel of the Roman Empire,by Ruth Downie. This historical fiction novel tells the story of Gaius Petreius Ruso, a soldier in the Roman army recovering from a battle injury. When he returns home, Ruso discovers that his estate is in danger of bankruptcy, and his major creditor has turned up dead. Downie weaves a story of comedic value, political intrigue and gripping suspense as the reader follows Ruso’s journey to restore all that he has lost.
Education professor Julie Coiro is reading Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana. This book talks about how critical asking questions is to a student’s development, and argues that the single most important lesson a teacher can instil in their students is to think in queries. Make Just One Change offers critical teaching strategies that any discipline can utilize in the classroom.
Communications professor Adam Roth is reading Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum. In this book, Blum explores the physical makeup of the Internet. When people think of the Internet, many assume there is nothing truly tangible about it, but Blum’s investigations on the Internet’s past and present proves this to be a misconceived notion. The book makes a trek into the Internet’s history; it travels from the room in Los Angeles where it was first conceived, to the Pacific Northwest datacenters of Google, Facebook and Microsoft. A Journey somehow manages to prove that the Internet is more than just a “series of tubes.”
Retired Film/Media professor Robert Manteiga is reading The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster. This semi-autobiographical novel follows the life of a man named Nathan Glass, a man who moves to Brooklyn after divorcing his wife and retiring from his job. After becoming estranged from his daughter, Glass moved to Brooklyn seeking a quiet, solitary life, but those plans change after meeting his long-lost nephew. Through his nephew and his nephew’s boss, Glass’ dreary outlook on life is brightened once again.
Writing and Rhetoric professor Karen Paley is reading The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater. In this memoir, Drinkwater talks about her impulsive decision to buy a rundown olive farm in Provence, France, which she isn’t able to afford. Throughout the memoir, the olive farm is both a bane and a blessing, but through charm, comedy and wit, Drinkwater takes the reader on a memorable journey through Provence which they aren’t soon to forget.
Journalism Professor John Pantalone is reading Digital Vertigo, by Andrew Keen. This book argues that the “interconnectedness” experienced by online social media only serves to further separate us rather than help us become closer. Keen’s book makes the claim that there is a paradox between our desire to belong to online communities and our longing for individual freedoms. Well researched and thoughtful, Digital Vertigo offers a blunt critique of the Internet’s affect on our personal relationships.
Writing and Rhetoric professor Adria Evans is reading When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams. Williams' memoir acts as both a reflection on her struggle to identify what it meant for her to "have a voice," and what it means for women around the world to collectively use their voices to share their experiences. When Women Were Birds meditates on the importance of communication, but also, the necessity of silence.
Professor Evans is also reading Peaceful Revolution: How We Can Create the Future Needed for Humanity's Survival by Paul K. Chappell. In this book, Chappell, an army veteran who served for seven years, lays out a plan for a more peaceful world. Despite being part of the Iraq war and experiencing a traumatic childhood upbringing, Chapell is someone who does not believe that peace is a naive concept. His book argues that through understanding the wars we have in our hearts, we can end the wars we have with each other.
Professor Jean Plunkett is reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This book discusses how introverts are undervalued in society, and how much can be lost by doing so. Cain, who is an introvert herself, spent seven years researching the book, and had to spend another year learning how to travel the country to talk about it. Expertly researched, Quiet uses the personal stories and successes of introverts to illustrate all of the good that came come from people who are "quiet."
Professor Kim Hensley Owens read Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel this summer. Mantel shares the story of Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn, and the related turn away from the Catholic church, through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell has often been cast as a villain in tellings of this tale, but Mantel's version fleshes Cromwell's character out and paints him as something of a hero, at least for a time. Professor Owens says, "It's a rich story, delightfully told. I pretty much wanted to drink up her language: in all, a carefully researched and beautifully crafted tale."
Professor Celest Martin is reading Autism: Culture, Narrative, and Fascination by Stuart Murray. The book explores the various cultural representations of autism through movies, books (nonfiction and fiction), poetry, television,and other forms of media.
Professor Martin is also reading Straight Man by Richard Russo. It is a fictional story about a reluctant English department chairman in an underfunded college in the Pennsylvania rust belt. She says the book is the funniest English department novel she has ever read.
Professor Caroline Gottschalk Druschke is reading Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky. She describes the book as a wide-ranging and captivating journalistic glimpse into the history of a single fish that once fueled global exploration and later became a cautionary tale of mismanagement and environmental collapse. "It's a page turner!" she says.
Professor Cheryl McCarthy is reading The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick. The book encompasses biography, history, and physics by introducing information theory by traveling through time. Gleick covers a wide range of inventions from the creation of numeracy and alphabets to the dictionary, telegraph, and computers in order to understand the physical property of information. Professor McCarthy says, "I recommend this book to students and academics who want to understand the physics of information theory for a broader understanding of the field as well as to the layperson grappling with what does all this information mean?"
Media and Civic Engagement Showcase
May 1st, 6-8PM PAFF Auditorium, URI, 80 Washington St. Providence
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