Recent Books

The Latest Offerings from Vanderbilt Writers


Place Not Race: A New Vision of Opportunity in America (2014, Beacon)
by Sheryll Cashin, BE’84

In her latest book, released on the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education in May, Cashin calls for an end to race-based affirmative action in university admissions. She argues that affirmative action based only on race too often helps dark-skinned students who are already advantaged, including well-educated African elites, while bypassing achievers from poor neighborhoods and schools who are deserving of special consideration. She argues for place-based admissions, tailoring affirmative action to those who are actually disadvantaged by structural barriers like concentrated poverty and poor schools.


Solitary Confinement: Social Death and Its Afterlives (2013, University of Minnesota)
by Lisa Guenther, associate professor of philosophy

In this book, which was recently featured in Newsweek, Lisa Guenther examines the death-in-life experience of solitary confinement in America from the early 19th century to today’s supermax prisons. Documenting how solitary confinement undermines prisoners’ sense of identity and their ability to understand the world, Guenther demonstrates the real effects of forcibly isolating a person for weeks, months or years.


A Late Encounter with the Civil War (2014, University of Georgia)
by Michael Kreyling, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English

In his latest book, Kreyling looks at the changing nature of our relationship to the anniversary of the Civil War by exploring the notion of social or collective memory. When significant anniversaries arrive in the histories of groups such as families, businesses or nations, their members set aside time to formally remember their shared past. In essays that explore the conscious and unconscious ways by which each era has staged, written or thought about the meaning of the Civil War, he wrestles with the current burden of remembering a war that to many may seem irrelevant or so far away as to be irretrievable.


A Psychological Perspective on Joy and Emotional Fulfillment (2013, Routledge)
by Chris Meadows, ’62

Throughout the history of psychology, there have been full investigations of discrete emotions (particularly negative ones) and a recent wealth of books on happiness, but few exist on the emotion of joy. This book undertakes a psychological approach using the development of an experiential phenomenology of joy to understand this powerful emotion and provides a framework within which the study of human joy and other related positive fulfillment experiences can fit.


The Age of Evangelicalism: America’s Born-Again Years (2014, Oxford)
by Steven P. Miller, MA’02, PhD’06

At the start of the 21st century, evangelicalism had become so powerful and pervasive that political scientist Alan Wolfe wrote of “a sense in which we are all evangelicals now.” Steven P. Miller offers a dramatically different perspective: the Bush years, he argues, did not mark the pinnacle of evangelical influence, but rather the beginning of its decline. The Age of Evangelicalism chronicles the place and meaning of evangelical Christianity in America since 1970, a period Miller defines as America’s “born-again years.” In this, his second book, he tells the story of how born-again Christianity shaped the cultural and political climate in which millions of Americans came to terms with their times.


Bark (2014, Knopf)
by Lorrie Moore, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English

Moore’s first collection of short stories in 15 years has garnered rave reviews, including one by Joyce Carol Oates in the New York Review of Books who writes, “Of the eight stories of Bark, [one] takes us on a rare flight of self-transcendence; the others are rueful journeys of self-discovery in which moments of recognition bring jolts like electric shocks.” The eight stories bring together craft, mind and spirit, exploring the passage of time and summoning its inevitable sorrows and hilarious pitfalls to reveal a singular wisdom.


Killing Your Own Snakes: The Journalistic World of John H. Sorrells (2013, Xlibris)
by Robert T. Sorrells, BA’56, MA’57

Fiction writer Robert Sorrells was 15 when his father, John Harvey Sorrells, a newspaperman with the Scripps Howard newspapers, died suddenly of a heart attack. Years later, when his brother sent him a box of his father’s manuscripts and clippings, he began to know better the father he lost in childhood, who was managing editor of the Cleveland Press, editor of the Fort Worth Press, and died as executive editor of the entire chain.


Growing Up White (2014, Harvard Square Editions)
by James Stobaugh, BA’74

Jacob Stevens, a transplanted southerner who grew up in the Jim Crow South, but now lives in the Pennsylvania Laurel Highlands, is invited to attend his 40th high school reunion. Jacob, who married a northerner and adopted three African American children, realizes that the reunion committee has neglected to invite the African American half of his class. This sparks an avalanche of painful nostalgia as he tries to cope with his own desire to return to the South and attend this reunion. Suddenly Jacob feels homesick and homeless, and guilty for feeling this way.


Put This On, Please: New and Selected Poems (2014, Red Hen)
by William Trowbridge, PhD’75

This latest offering from the Poet Laureate of Missouri contains work from all five of his full collections, as well as a group of new poems. In lines that capture the rhythms of everyday speech (with the ghost of meter haunting closely along), Trowbridge follows misfits and outcasts whose ramblings and shamblings reflect our own well-meaning gropes for fulfillment.

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