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BOOKS

More notable recent books by Cornellians

Rodrigo Hasbún is one to watch

Rodrigo Hasbśn

Rodrigo Hasbśn See larger image

Granta, the literary magazine that publishes a once-a-decade spotlight on young literary talents to watch, has included Rodrigo Hasbún, a Cornell doctoral student in Spanish studies, for its 2010 "Best of Young Spanish Novelists" edition.

Hasbún, born in Bolivia, is one of 22 Spanish-language authors whose work ("The Place of Losses," translated by Carolina de Robertis) appears in the book.

Granta has previously published prescient lists of best young British and American writers; the 2010 publication was the first such list of Spanish language authors.

Hasbún had his first story published in 2000 at the age of 19. He won Bolivia's National Story Prize in 2002 and was selected to represent Bolivia during Bogota 39, which brought together 39 writers under the age of 39. He also has been awarded the Latin Union Prize for the Most Original Spanish American Short Fiction.

Hasbún's first collection of short stories, "Cinco" (2006), preceded the novel "El lugar del cuerpo" (2007). A second collection of short stories, "Los días más felices," will be published this year.

Cornell classics revisited

When a reprint of the 2002 book "A Guide to the Classical Collections of Cornell University," published by the Johnson Museum of Art, was requested, it was discovered that the publisher had gone out of business and all the original printer's files had been destroyed.

A new edition of the book, co-published by Cornell University Press contains new content. The guide, by Peter Kuniholm, Nancy Ramage and Andrew Ramage and edited by Jane Terrell, is a full-color, illustrated overview of the collections of Greek and Roman pottery, ceramics, sculpture, inscriptions and coins housed across Cornell. The book discusses the history and instructional role played by the H. W. Sage Collection of Casts of classical artworks? and attitudes toward classical antiquity in the American university.

These collections "are invaluable for research and scholarship and for teaching present-day students in fields from classics to art history to Near Eastern studies, anthropology, and city and regional planning," Cornell President Emeritus Hunter Rawlings writes in the foreword.

Typhoid Morris

A new book uncovers scandal behind the 1903 typhoid epidemic that killed 85 people in Ithaca, including 29 Cornell students.

"The Epidemic: A Collision of Power, Privilege, and Public Health" (Lyons Press, 2011) by David DeKok, recounts how local burghers the Tremans arranged the sale of the Ithaca Water Works to a friend, William T. Morris, in 1901.

Several Tremans served on Cornell's board of trustees, and the university provided funding for the ill-fated deal.

On his blog DeKok writes: "Morris, vain and grandiose, began building a huge dam above Ithaca on Six Mile Creek, the town's main water supply. He ignored advice from his engineer to first build a filtration plant to protect the community. One of the Italian immigrant workers he employed turned out to be a typhoid carrier, a concept not understood in America in 1903, and he accidentally contaminated Six Mile Creek. Typhoid began killing young people in Ithaca, including students at the university, in January 1903."

Yet Morris "walked away scot-free, protected by his wealthy Ithaca friends. Cornell University was saved only by the intervention of Andrew Carnegie, a board member, who paid the medical and/or funeral expenses of Cornell students and provided funds for a campus water treatment plant."

The state public health official who broke the epidemic that spring, George A. Soper, later tracked down Typhoid Mary in New York City.

How gender bias created public v. private lives

Cornell University Press is publishing history professor Mary Beth Norton's newest book, "Separated by Their Sex: Women in Public and Private in the Colonial Atlantic World," in April. Norton is the Mary Donlon Professor of American History at Cornell and an expert on early America; her 1996 book "Founding Mothers and Fathers" was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

In "Separated by Their Sex," Norton traces a shift in attitudes toward women's participation in public affairs in Anglo-American society during the 18th century. Before this shift, high-status men and women could claim a political voice in the public sphere, but by the 1760s, colonial women had largely confined themselves to home and family. Norton traces this change to the cultural arbiters of the age, including John Dunton, editor of the Athenian Mercury, a popular 1690s periodical that promoted women's links to husband, family, and household.

Subsequently, the influential authors Richard Steele and Joseph Addison (in the Tatler and the Spectator) advanced the notion that women's participation in politics – even in political dialogues – was absurd.

On the cusp of the American Revolution, Norton writes, a newly gendered public-private division was firmly in place.

Sanctity and pornography: On the verge

Images of saints in medieval Europe bear an uncanny resemblance to modern pornographic images, says Cary Howie, assistant professor of Romance studies and director of Cornell's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies Program, in his new book, "Sanctity and Pornography in Medieval Culture: On the Verge" (Manchester University Press).

The book, which Howie co-wrote with William Burgwinkle of the University of Cambridge, uses images and accounts of pain and pleasure, bodily exposure and concealment to explore the links between medieval devotion and contemporary eroticism.

Saints and centerfolds appear side by side; medieval narratives and illuminations share the page with modern short stories, photography and film. The book uncovers texts and images that diminish distance between the sexual and the sacred, and between premodern Europe and contemporary California.

Its central argument is that the bodies of medieval saints, like the bodies of modern centerfolds and movie stars, "disclose themselves to us as they simultaneously summon us to be disclosed ... after all, the body in ecstasy, sacred or profane, is only ever as ecstatic as the viewer looking on."

Four decades of veterinary vignettes

John J. Brennan, D.V.M. '52 has published a book of stories, memories and vignettes from his 40 years as a veterinarian. In "This Vet has Tales," he covers experiences with animals from white mice to buffalo and topics from technological change to euthanasia, and describes the balance between the art and science of veterinary medicine.

Brennan's Guilderland (N.Y.) Animal Hospital has grown to include seven veterinarians and 30 support staff.

Brennan says the book is for the "legions of people who love and/or appreciate animals." Stories include the holiday his children would later call "porcupine Christmas," an ailing elephant at a fair; and how the German language ended one poodle's self-imposed fast.

At Cornell Brennan met his wife, Mary '52. Two of their three children attended Cornell (the other is Ithaca physician Peter Brennan).

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