Chigusa and the Art of Tea


Chigusa and the Art of Tea

Edited by: Louise Allison Cort and Andrew Watsky
Publisher: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2014

This book of essays by multiple authors tells the story of an extraordinary tea-leaf storage jar named Chigusa. The jar was crafted in southern China during the 13th or 14th century and shipped to Japan, where its use as a tea-leaf storage jar endowed it with special status. The bestowing of a personal name — Chigusa (“thousand grasses” or “myriad things”), an evocative phrase from Japanese poetry — was a sign of respect and reverence.

Chigusa is the rare object that allows us deep insight into how people in Japan looked at, thought about and valued things over time,” said Andrew Watsky, professor of art and archaeology at Princeton University. He co-authored the book with Louise Allison Cort, curator of ceramics at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution, which organized the exhibition, Chigusa and the Art of Tea in Japan.

The exhibition is on view at the Princeton University Art Museum from Oct. 11, 2014, through Feb. 1, 2015.

House of Debt: How they (and you) caused the great recession, and how we can prevent it from happening again

House of Debt

House of Debt by Atif Mian and Amir Sufi

Authors: Atif Mian and Amir Sufi
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 2014

The Great American Recession resulted in the loss of 8 million jobs between 2007 and 2009. More than 4 million homes were lost to foreclosures. Is it a coincidence that the United States witnessed a dramatic rise in household debt in the years before the recession — that the total amount of debt for American households doubled between 2000 and 2007 to $14 trillion? Definitely not.

Armed with clear and powerful evidence, Atif Mian, the Theodore A. Wells ’29 Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, and Amir Sufi, the Chicago Board of Trade Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago, reveal how the Great Recession and Great Depression, as well as the current economic malaise in Europe, were caused by a large run-up in household debt followed by a significantly large drop in household spending. Mian and Sufi argue strongly with data that current policy is biased toward protecting banks and creditors.

Shell Structures for Architecture: Form Finding and Optimization

Shell Structures for Architecture

Shell Structures for Architecture

Edited by: Sigrid Adriaenssens, Philippe Block, Diederik Veenendaal and Chris Williams, with a foreword by Pritzker Prize Winner Shigeru Ban
Publisher: Routledge: Taylor and Francis, 2014

This book presents contemporary design methods for shell and gridshell structures, covering formfinding and structural optimization techniques. Edited by experts including Princeton Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Sigrid Adriaenssens, the book introduces architecture and engineering practitioners and students to structural shells and provides computational techniques to develop complex curved structural surfaces, in the form of mathematics, computer algorithms and design case studies.

The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America

The First Civil RightAuthor: Naomi Murakawa
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2014

The explosive rise in the U.S. incarceration rate in the second half of the 20th century, and the racial transformation of the prison population from mostly white at mid-century to 65 percent black and Latino in the present day, is a trend that cannot easily be ignored. Many believe that this shift began with the “tough on crime” policies advocated by Republicans and southern Democrats beginning in the late 1960s.

Naomi Murakawa, associate professor in the Center for African American Studies, inverts the conventional wisdom by arguing that the expansion of the federal carceral state was, in fact, rooted in the civil-rights liberalism of the 1940s and early 1960s. Responding to calls to end the lawlessness and violence against blacks at the state and local levels, the Truman administration expanded the scope of what was previously a weak federal system. Later administrations from Johnson to Clinton expanded the federal presence even more. Ironically, these steps laid the groundwork for the creation of the vast penal archipelago that now exists in the United States. What began as a liberal initiative to curb the mob violence and police brutality that had deprived racial minorities of their “first civil right” — physical safety — eventually evolved into the federal correctional system that now deprives them, in unjustly large numbers, of another important right: freedom.

Evening News: Optics, Astronomy, and Journalism in Early Modern Europe

Evening News

Evening News by Naomi Murakawa

Author: Eileen Reeves
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014

Professor of Comparative Literature Eileen Reeves examines a web of connections between journalism, optics and astronomy in early modern Europe, devoting particular attention to the ways in which a long-standing association of reportage with covert surveillance and astrological prediction was altered by the near simultaneous emergence of weekly newsheets, the invention of the Dutch telescope and the appearance of Galileo Galilei’s astronomical treatise, The Starry Messenger.

Early modern news writers and consumers often understood journalistic texts in terms of recent developments in optics and astronomy, Reeves demonstrates, even as many of the first discussions of telescopic phenomena such as planetary satellites, lunar craters, sunspots and comets were conditioned by accounts of current events. She charts how the deployment of particular technologies of vision — the telescope and the camera obscura — were adapted to comply with evolving notions of objectivity, censorship and civic awareness.

Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878 – 1928

StalinIt has the quality of myth: a poor cobbler’s son, a seminarian from an oppressed outer province of the Russian empire, reinvents himself as a top leader in a band of revolutionary zealots. He later embarks upon the greatest gamble of his political life and the largest program of social reengineering ever attempted: the collectivization of all agriculture and industry across one-sixth of the Earth.

In Stalin, Stephen Kotkin, Princeton’s John P. Birkelund ’52 Professor in History and International Affairs, offers a biography that, at long last, is equal to this shrewd, sociopathic, charismatic dictator in all his dimensions. Kotkin rejects the inherited wisdom about Stalin’s psychological makeup, showing us instead how Stalin’s near paranoia was fundamentally political, and closely tracks the Bolshevik revolution’s structural paranoia, the predicament of a Communist regime in an overwhelmingly capitalist world, surrounded and penetrated by enemies. At the same time, Kotkin demonstrates the impossibility of understanding Stalin’s momentous decisions outside of the context of the tragic history of imperial Russia.