Must Reads: A CCAS Faculty Bookshelf

Stack of books with on open book
August 15, 2018


In the past year, Columbian College faculty have penned timely titles on subjects such as the fight for fair housing, the pros and cons of cell phones, the TV writing process and critically-praised collections from a pair of poets. The following is a sampling of recent books.

The Fight for Fair Housing: Causes, Consequences and Future Implications of the 1968 Federal Fair Housing Act

Book Cover of The Fight for Fair Housing by Gregory Squires


To mark the 40th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Gregory D. Squires, professor of sociology and public policy and public administration, tells the story of the landmark legislation. He describes how it came about, how it confronted discrimination and the segregated living patterns that characterized most cities and what remains to be done to ensure housing equality. The Fair Housing Act was debated in a time of turmoil, conflict and conflagration in cities across the nation. It took the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to finally secure its passage. Squires contributed his own essays and edited those of leading fair housing activists and scholars to document the historic accomplishment and its implications for today’s social landscape. 


Linguistic and Material Intimacies of Cell Phones

Linguistic and Material Intimacies of Cell Phones Book Cover


Cell phones are a constant presence in our lives. But what does the proliferation of this ubiquitous technology say about privacy, selfhood and how we communicate in the 21st century? Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs Joel Kuipers co-edited this detailed ethnographic and anthropological examination of the social, cultural, linguistic and material aspects of cell phones. Using rural and urban examples from communities across the globe, the book links the use of cell phones to contemporary discussions about representation, mediation and subjectivity. It investigates how cell phone technology challenges the boundaries of privacy and raises new questions about the pros and cons of sophisticated communication.


Said the Prophet of God: Hadith Commentary across a Millennium

Said the Prophet of God book cover


Assistant Professor of History Joel Blecher breaks open a brand new field in Islamic studies in his examination of how the hadith (Muhammad’s sayings and practices) has been debated and understood over the past millennium. Although scholars have long studied the ways Muslims authenticated and transmitted the hadith, the story of how they interpreted and reinterpreted its meanings over hundreds of years has yet to be told. Blecher offers a window into how communities from classical Muslim Spain to Medieval Egypt to modern India understood the hadith in different ways, weaving together tales of high court rivalries, public furors and colonial politics.


Writing Hollywood: The Work and Professional Culture of Television Writers

Book Cover of Writing Hollywood: The Work and Professional Culture of Television Writers


What goes on behind the cameras of your favorite TV shows? Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs Patricia Phalen highlights an aspect of television drama and comedy series that few people see: the writing process. Using data from personal interviews and participant observation at a prime time drama, she analyzes the relationships among writers in series television, describes the interactions between writers and studio/network executives and explains how internal and external pressures affect the occupational culture of the television writing profession. Phalen explains writers’ efforts to control risk and survive in a constantly changing environment.


Religious Zionism, Jewish Law, and the Morality of War

Book Cover of Religious Zionism, Jewish Law, and the Morality of War


Robert Eisen, professor of religion and Judaic studies, examines a dilemma within modern Jewish thought: Although the state of Israel has been plagued by war ever since it was established in 1948, Jewish law includes little material on moral issues in times of conflict. Most Jewish teachings were developed during centuries when Jews had neither a state nor an army. The leading rabbis of the religious Zionist community have had to create an entire body of laws addressing morality in wartime where practically none existed before. Eisen features five prominent rabbis with insight into the key moral questions in war. His explorations provide a window into the worldview of religious Zionism and Israeli politics.


Naming the Dawn by Abdourahman A. Waberi & Some Say the Lark by Jennifer Chang

Book cover for Naming the Dawn & Some Say the Lark


Faculty made their mark in the world of poetry with critically praised volumes by Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Literature Abdourahman A. Waberi and Assistant Professor of English Jennifer Chang. In Naming the Dawn, Waberi offers an introspective and inquisitive collection that reflects on deep spiritual bonds—with words, with great Islamic poets and with the cultural and geographic landscapes in which those poets (and Waberi himself) were raised. In Some Say the Lark, Chang narrates grief and loss, and intertwines them with hope for a fresh start in the midst of new beginnings. With topics such as frustration with our social and natural world, her poems openly question the self and place and how private experiences like motherhood and sorrow necessitate a deeper engagement with public life and history.


Enemies and Friends of the State: Ancient Prophecy in Context

Book Cover of Enemies and Friends of the State: Ancient Prophecy in Context


Within the world of the Bible, prophets and prophetesses were sometimes ardent proponents of royal and priestly rhetoric and deeds. But they could also be vocal critics, speaking truth to power. Christopher A. Rollston, associate professor of Northwest Semitic languages and literatures, edited this volume that plumbs the depths of the prophetic voices of the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament Apocrypha and the Greek New Testament. More than 25 of the most distinguished scholars in the field of biblical studies contributed articles on subjects such as prophecy in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Syria and Transjordan.


International Students in First-Year Writing: A Journey Through Socio-Academic Space

Book Cover of International Students in First-Year Writing


Megan Siczek, assistant professor of English for academic purposes, chronicles the journey of 10 international students to better understand their experiences at a U.S. educational institution. Through interviews, she gives voice to global students enrolled in a first-year writing course as they navigate their role outside the dominant cultural and linguistic community. Their stories inform practices and policies relative to the internationalization of education and the development of global perspectives and competencies.