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Local Book Notes: Chicago Hustle & Flow

"Geoff Harkness, assistant professor of sociology at Morningside College, recently received the 2015-2016 Midwest Sociological Society Distinguished Book Award for his book Chicago Hustle and Flow: Gangs, Gangsta Rap, and Social Class," the Sioux City Journal in Iowa reports.

"Harkness [received] the award [this month] at the Midwest Sociological Society annual meeting in Chicago."

The book was published in 2014, but for some reason it's never made it onto the Beachwood, so let's take a look.

From the publisher:

"Set in one of the largest underground music scenes in the nation, this book takes readers into the heart of gangsta rap culture in Chicago. Geoff Harkness presents gripping accounts of the lives, beliefs, and ambitions of the gang members and rappers and illustrates how class stratification creates and maintains inequalities, even at the level of a local rap-music scene."


From Charis Kubrin, in the American Sociological Review:

"Harkness's approach is wonderfully refreshing. The focal point of many rap studies, at least in sociology, is song lyrics. Chicago Hustle and Flow moves us beyond that literature. And in engaging prose, Harkness navigates easily between stories of rappers and the academic literature from scholars in a range of disciplines.

"Perhaps most noteworthy is Harkness's focus on Chicago's rap microscene as his study's unit of analysis."


Harkness earned his Ph.D from Northwestern in 2010. He's also researched athletes in the Middle East.

Library Cops
"Over the years, libraries have fined patrons for not bringing back books and offered no-questions-asked return periods. They've published the names of book scofflaws in local newspapers. They've paid personal calls on people who hold onto books past their due dates, and even sicced the police on particularly recalcitrant readers. And they still don't really know how to get their books back," Helaine Olen writes for Slate.

"Librarians have been playing with this issue for a century-and-a-half, and there is little consensus," says Wayne Wiegand, author of Part of Our Lives: A People's History of the American Public Library.

It doesn't seem hard. Once fines reach such heights as to be prohibitive upon the borrower, you aren't going to get that book back. That's when an amnesty works. So perhaps amnesties shouldn't be open to everyone, but to those with books long outstanding.


"Chicago has offered two amnesties over the past five years, recovering more than 120,000 items. Getting decades-old overdue books isn't unusual during amnesties. A 1983 Philadelphia amnesty netted $1.5 million worth of books and other library property, including a book originally checked out in March of 1922."

Free Improv
"Improvisation rattles some listeners," the University of Chicago Press says.

"Maybe they're even suspicious of it. John Coltrane's saxophonic flights of fancy, Jimi Hendrix's feedback drenched guitar solos, Ravi Shankar's sitar extrapolations - all these sounds seem like so much noodling or jamming, indulgent self-expression. 'Just' improvising, as is sometimes said. For these music fans, it seems natural that music is meant to be composed.

"In the first book of its kind, John Corbett's A Listener's Guide to Free Improvisation provides a how-to manual for the most extreme example of spontaneous improvising: music with no pre-planned material at all.

"Drawing on over three decades of writing about, presenting, playing, teaching, and studying freely improvised music, Corbett offers an enriching set of tools that show any curious listener how to really listen, and he encourages them to enjoy the human impulse - found all around the world - to make up music on the spot."


Writes Peter Margasak for the Reader:

"He tells the reader what to listen for, how the size of groups can impact interplay dynamics, and how every musician has his or her own vocabulary and tendencies. He also provides a few lists of good recordings to start with. Plenty of passages quickened my pulse a bit and got me excited to check out a concert, if only to reassess my relationship with the music."

The Green Ghost
"Until now, much scholarly work on Burroughs has focused on the sensational aspects of his life and on his innovative writing," the SIU Press says.

"The Green Ghost, by Chad Weidner, uncovers the ecological context of literary texts by William Burroughs. By rereading canonical and ignored texts while pushing the boundaries of ecocritical theory and practice, Weidner provides a fresh perspective on Burroughs and suggests new theoretical and methodological approaches to understanding the work of other Beat writers."

Catholic Stuff
"When I arrived at the University of Chicago in 1985, there were two female professors at the Divinity School," Gillian T.W. Ahlgren writes for the National Catholic Reporter.

Neither of them was in historical theology or the history of Christianity, so it was important for the words and methods of people like Teresa, Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, and others to supplement the instruction that I was receiving at Chicago. They always showed me not only that women belonged at the core of theological discourse but also that women brought different questions to the table, as well as a broad set of experiences that needed careful and thorough integration into the theological arena.

After my first year of graduate work, however, I found myself weary and discouraged, and I sought advice from my advisor, Bernard McGinn. Schooled in Teresa's own melodious language of subjectivity, all I could say to him was that it felt to me that my studies were causing me "to lose the simplicity of my soul." I appealed to the example of St. Francis (who was rumored to have said, "Preach the gospel at all times; use words when necessary"), and told him that I was considering taking a year off. Bernie wisely referred me to his wife Pat. And fortunately I found out about the University's Tinker Field Research Grant for Latin American and Iberian studies.

And then, divine intervention.


I mean, I don't believe in it, but this writer does, so whatever. I mean, really, it's just a coincidence what happens next. God doesn't really intervene that way. Can you imagine? But whatever.


Comments welcome.


Posted on March 29, 2016

MUSIC - Britney's IUD.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - Locked Out And Loaded.

BOOKS - Foxconned.


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