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Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown by David Yaffe (Yale University Press)
In Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown, literary scholar and music critic David Yaffe considers Dylan from four perspectives: his complicated relationship to blackness (including his involvement in the civil rights movement and a secret marriage with a black backup singer), the underrated influence of his singing style, his fascinating image in films, and his controversial songwriting methods that have led to charges of plagiarism. Each chapter travels from the 1960s to the present, offering a historical perspective on the many facets of Dylan's life and career, exploring the mystery that surrounds the enigmatic singer and revealing the complete unknown Dylan.”
Understanding American Icons: An Introduction to Semiotics by Arthur Asa Berger (Left Coast Press)
This brief, student-friendly introduction to the study of semiotics uses examples from 25 iconic locations in the United States. From Coney Island to Las Vegas, the World Trade Center to the Grand Canyon, Berger shows how semiotics offers a different lens in understanding locations taken for granted in American culture. He recasts Disneyland according to Freud, channels the Mall of America through Baudrilliard, and sees Mount Rushmore through the lens of Gramsci. A seasoned author of student texts, Berger offers an entertaining, non-threatening way to teach theory to undergraduates and that will fit ideally in classes on cultural studies, American studies, social theory, and tourism.
Managing the Fiscal Metropolis: The Financial Policies, Practices, and Health of Suburban Municipalities by Rebecca M. Hendrick (Georgetown University Press)
Hendrick's groundbreaking study covers 264 Chicago suburban municipalities from the late 1990s to the present. In it she identifies and describes the primary factors and events that affect municipal financial decisions and financial conditions, explores the strategies these governments use to manage financial conditions and solve financial problems, and looks at the impact of contextual factors and stresses on government financial decisions. Managing the Fiscal Metropolis offers new evidence about the role of contextual factors— including other local governments—in the financial condition of municipalities and how municipal financial decisions and practices alter these effects. The wide economic and social diversity of the municipalities studied make its findings relevant on a national scale.”
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Katrina Lee contributed to this post.