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Fordham University Press, University of California Press (FlashPoints series), University of Pennsylvania Press, University of Virginia Press, and University of Washington

Fordham University Press, University of California Press (FlashPoints series), University of Pennsylvania Press, University of Virginia Press, and University of Washington

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REVIEW: The Jewish Week

1/20/13

The Tangled History of Shuls and Real Estate

By Sandee Brawarsky

Had it been two blocks south and a bit farther east, the 16th Street Synagogue would have been included in Gerard R. Wolfe’s excellent new edition of his classic work, “The Synagogues of New York’s Lower East Side: A Retrospective and Contemporary View” (Empire State Editions/Fordham University Press). That shul, formerly the Young Israel of Fifth Avenue, is being evicted from its building, after a long dispute with a developer.

Those interested in New York City’s building genealogy and the intertwining connections between real estate interests, immigrant history, shifting populations and synagogue life will find much of interest in Wolfe’s book, first published in 1978. He details the active synagogues (12) and the “lost” or endangered synagogues (24), and also includes a great chronological chart documenting shul mergers and breakaways in New York City, 1654 – 1875.

Wolfe, an architectural historian, unpeels layers of the past behind the congregations and their buildings. He pays careful attention to the special features of the buildings (the Bialystoker Synagogue, built as a church, may have been a station on the Underground Railroad, sheltering runaway slaves) and their architects (the Erste Warshawer Congregation, First Warsaw Congregation, now repurposed to art studios and residence, was designed by Emery Roth, known for designing the Sam Remo apartment house on Central Park West); and their struggles, some ongoing.

Sadly, in this edition, Congregation Beth Hamedrash Hagadol on Norfolk Street moved from the active synagogue to the endangered section, shortly before the book went to press. That shul ‘s sanctuary has magnificent wall paintings and carvings, along with a storied history of distinguished rabbis, most recently, the late Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, who had been the rabbi of the Kovno ghetto. A group including his son-in-law and leaders of the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy is trying to secure funding for restoration and renovation. READ MORE

1/20/13 The Tangled History of Shuls and Real Estate By Sandee Brawarsky Had it been two blocks south and a bit farther east, the 16th Street Synagogue would have been included in Gerard R. Wolfe’s excellent new edition of his … Full Story

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Civil Rights in New York City

Today marks the anniversary of Civil Rights Leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

In 1967, King led the largest antiwar demonstration to date in New York City. More than 1,100 people marched with King from Central Park to U.N. headquarters to protest the Vietnam War.

He is remembered today in New York with a street named in his honor. Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard is an alternative name for Manhattan’s 125th Street. There is also a Martin Luther King, Jr. High School on Amsterdam Avenue and a Martin Luther King Triangle, a park space in Manhattan’s Mott Haven neighborhood (Austin Place and East 149th Street).

Since the 1960s, most U.S. history has been written as if the civil rights movement were primarily or entirely a Southern history. Civil Rights in New York City edited by Clarence Taylor joins a growing body of scholarship that demonstrates the importance of the Northern history of the movement. The contributors make clear that civil rights in New York City were contested in many ways, beginning long before the 1960s, and across many groups with a surprisingly wide range of political perspectives. Civil Rights in New York City provides a sample of the rich historical record of the fight for racial justice in the city that was home to the nation’s largest population of African-Americans in mid-twentieth century America.

Also of interest…

Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free
Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman and POW

For more information on Red Tails visit or www.Redtailsfilm.com.

Today marks the anniversary of Civil Rights Leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. In 1967, King led the largest antiwar demonstration to date in New York City. More than 1,100 people marched with King from Central Park to U.N. … Full Story

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Digital Theory, Inc.

Review in Postmodern Culture, Vol. 22, No. 2, by Carol Colatrella

Review of Katie King, Networked Reenactments: Stories Transdisciplinary Knowledges Tell, Durham: Duke UP, 2011.

Rob Wilkie, The Digital Condition: Class and Culture in the Information Network, New York: Fordham UP, 2011.

Over the past year, faculty members in my interdisciplinary department at Georgia Tech responded to the request by an external review for improved descriptions of our programs and department. The process of strategic planning is inherited from the corporate world and is the most obvious way that academic institutions are being pressed to function better (i.e., more like corporations). My colleagues and I struggled to agree on the best description of our research and teaching, because we knew that the reputation and future configuration of the department were at stake. Recessionary university budgets meant that we had to be both accurate and persuasive in descriptions that would be read by various interest groups: our university colleagues; administrators, including our dean, provost, and president; former, current, and prospective students and their parents; employers of our graduates; the citizens and legislators of our state who underwrite part of the budget for our institution; and the various other funding agencies and donors who contribute to our research and curricular programs.

After considering what each faculty member does and relating it to the university’s recently issued strategic plan, we reached a consensus that our scholarship and curricular programs focus on culture and technology, and particularly on building and critiquing technologies, including technologies of representation. While agreeing on our core activities, however, we also recognized diverse affiliations with other disciplinary and interdisciplinary humanistic fields: rhetoric, literary criticism, creative writing, cinema studies, performance studies, and cultural studies of science and technology. Because it is impossible to be both universally transparent and cutting-edge, there are irresolvable, permanent tensions between our department’s general project and individual faculty members’ specific research; these tensions are reflected, furthermore, in the differences between our department’s configuration and those of similar departments in the state system and beyond.

Our experience of strategic planning represents what Katie King calls “networked reenactment” in building community-identity and embodies what Rob Wilkie describes as the necessary, if unpaid, labor to create culture. King’s and Wilkie’s respective books, Networked Reenactments: Stories Transdisciplinary Knowledges Tell and The Digital Condition: Class and Culture in the Information Network, both consider the economic forces affecting the creation, deployment, and consumption of technologies and related representations. Both books explain how macroeconomic processes affect scholarly work and undervalue it in the marketplace. Theoretically rigorous, these books are also highly pragmatic in recommending activism for social justice. Read more

Carol Colatrella
Georgia Institute of Technology
carol.colatrella@lcc.gatech.edu

Review in Postmodern Culture, Vol. 22, No. 2, by Carol Colatrella Review of Katie King, Networked Reenactments: Stories Transdisciplinary Knowledges Tell, Durham: Duke UP, 2011. Rob Wilkie, The Digital Condition: Class and Culture in the Information Network, New York: Fordham … Full Story

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Age-Old Media Bias

By Matthew Isham
In the wake of the acrimonious presidential election this past fall, several political pundits condemned what they believed to be invidious media bias on both sides of the contest. That bias, they charged, has created a toxic political environment that exacerbates partisanship and sharply divides the nation. At Salon, for instance, Andrew Leonard blamed the conservative “echo chamber” for promoting Republican extremism and blinding the party’s loyal base to political reality. Not to be outdone, Rich Noyes at the Fox News website accused “media elites” in essence of conspiring to derail Romney’s campaign and re-elect the president. For Leonard, Noyes, and other pundits, the behavior of the media in recent elections offends their ideal of an independent and objective media, scrupulously devoid of political bias. Their complaints are inspired by a nostalgic notion that the country’s press once was a model of professional objectivity, but, with the proliferation of electronic media, in recent years has devolved into unseemly partisanship.

Yet, what these critics see as a troubling new phenomenon has a very long history in this country in reality. Historically, the proliferation of the press and the establishment of political parties were intimately intertwined. Each was necessary to the establishment and development of the other. Beginning around 1800, newspapers enabled incipient political parties to reach a national audience and recruit loyal voters, ensuring the organizations’ long-term survival. For their part, newspapers benefited from subsidies from political parties to publish campaign information and literature and from an expanded readership that devoured political news. Still, this mutually beneficial relationship did not always sit well with people. The well-known social reformer and critic Gerrit Smith despaired of the deepening partnership between the press and political parties in the 1820s. He cautioned citizens that if they cherished an independent press, then they should “expose it, as little as possible, to the corruption of political parties and to the lying spirit, which too generally actuates them.” Americans did not heed Smith’s warning, however, for unabashedly partisan newspapers came to dominate the press from the 1820s through the Civil War.

So why did Americans tolerate a thoroughly politicized and highly partisan press in the past? In large part it was because the concept of a professional, critical, and objective media was foreign to them. From the 18th through much of the 19th century, the American press was designed to serve a segmented market. Individual newspapers served the interests of merchants, lawyers, women, temperance advocates, abolitionists, churchgoers, devotees of literature, even enthusiasts of pornography, among other niche markets. Americans therefore were used to popular media that promoted and catered to particular points of view, interests and beliefs. In Objectivity and the News, the historian Daniel Schiller contends that the penny press of the 1830s essentially invented the concept of objectivity in the media when they sought to bypass the segmented market and create a broader public appeal. This was an inauspicious development, for these journals’ pose of objectivity was a mere marketing ploy, not an accurate reflection of their editorial or journalistic practice. The penny press still was highly politicized, if not consistently partisan.

Partisan newspapers continued to dominate the press until the late nineteenth century, when. overt partisanship in the media all but disappeared. Politics and the media nevertheless continue to be intimately connected, as the robust market for political news has remained a constant. The proliferation of electronic media in recent years, particularly with the success of special interest websites and blogs, has capitalized on this by resurrecting media partisanship. This might come as an unwelcome shock to those who venerate the myth of media objectivity, but it is unsurprising when considered in the context of the mutual historical development of the media and partisan politics in this country.
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Matthew Isham is Managing Director of The George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center, The Pennsylvania State University. He wrote “A Press That Speaks Its Opinions Frankly and Openly and Fearlessly”: The Contentious Relationship between the Democratic Press and the Party in the Antebellum North in This Distracted and Anarchical People: New Answers for Old Questions about the Civil War–Era North.

Salon link
Fox News link

By Matthew Isham In the wake of the acrimonious presidential election this past fall, several political pundits condemned what they believed to be invidious media bias on both sides of the contest. That bias, they charged, has created a toxic … Full Story

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